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Practical ways to help

Many people with gambling problems take their first steps towards getting help when they understand the effect their gambling is having on others.

One of the very first steps to recovery is talking about it.

If someone close to you has a gambling problem, an honest, non-confrontational conversation may be just what they need to get started on the road to recovery.

Once you've opened up the conversation, there are many practical ways you can help someone with a gambling problem. Together you can talk about what might work and put actions in place.

To begin with, you could:

  • look at this website together and use the information to work out action plan
  • call Gambler's Help together on 1800 858 858 to find out how to get counselling, advice and support.

Because everyone's circumstances are different, the tips below may work for some people but not for others. It's a good idea to speak with a professional counsellor when considering the best approach for you and the person you're concerned about.

Managing money

It's likely the person you're concerned about has difficulty handling money when gambling opportunities exist. You could:

  • suggest setting a limit of an agreed amount for them to spend on gambling each week
  • help them set up a budget and direct debits for bills
  • plan together how to limit their access to money for a period of time – for example, once bills are paid, you could make sure they have only what they need for food and other essential items
  • look after their credit and EFTPOS cards for them.

You may also need to protect your own money. If necessary:

  • set up separate bank accounts
  • remove your name from shared credit cards or bank accounts
  • don't share your PINs
  • don't leave credit cards or money lying around.

The person with a gambling problem may ask you to give or lend them money. If you give them financial help, make sure they get counselling help as well. Be clear that loans must be paid back, even if it's only a small amount each week.

You can call Gambler's Help on 1800 858 858 to talk to a financial counsellor. Financial counsellors can help with:

  • negotiating formal debt agreements and talking to creditors
  • legally protecting your joint assets, such as your house
  • putting measures in place so you are not held responsible for any further debt.

Removing the temptation

One way to support someone with a gambling problem is to help them avoid places where they may be tempted to gamble.

In Australia people can ban themselves from visiting a venue or from betting on gambling websites. This is called self-exclusion. You can help the person with a gambling problem exclude themselves from clubs, pubs or TABs, or from placing a bet online. Read more about self-exclusion.

Enjoying other activities together

It's helpful to try to replace someone's gambling with other activities they enjoy. Think about when they gamble and suggest other fun or social activities, like going to the movies or having a meal together.

Looking after yourself and keeping active is also a good idea for anyone supporting a person with a gambling problem.

Getting help

How can you tell if there's an issue?

How you can tell if there's an issue

It can often be hard to tell when gambling stops being fun and starts becoming a problem. Find out some signs to see whether gambling's starting to harm someone you know.

Learn more
Deciding to talk about it

Deciding to talk about it

If you think someone close to you has a gambling problem, taking the first step to help them can be difficult. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed, or they may actually feel in control of their gambling and think they don't need to change.

Learn more
Making an action plan

Make an action plan

Returning to gambling is a common problem for people trying to stop. If you are helping someone close to you recover from problem gambling, it can be useful to have a plan in place to help keep them headed in the right direction.

Learn more