Gambling can be an entertaining activity for many, but for some people, it can also lead to harmful consequences and addiction. Whether you’re seeking information for yourself or a loved one, we’re here to help you navigate the complexities of this matter.

Understanding Gambling Addiction

According to the medical organisation Mayo Clinic, gambling addiction or compulsive gambling is the uncontrollable desire to gamble despite clear signs that it’s affecting your other aspects of your life, such as your work, school, family, and/or your personal financial situation.

People with gambling addiction experience a loss of control over their gambling behaviour, often leading to harmful effects on their personal, financial, and social well-being. They may engage in repetitive gambling activities, such as betting in sports, playing casino games, or participating in online gambling, with an uncontrollable and increasing frequency and intensity.

There are three types of gambling addiction:

  • Compulsive gambling: this type struggles to control their urge to gamble and they will look for any opportunity to make bets and wagers.
  • Binge gambling: they may appear to be in control because they only exhibit compulsive gambling symptoms during certain periods.
  • Problem gambling: this type isn’t addicted, but they may exhibit certain behaviours that disturb their normal life such as chasing losses or lying to loved ones about their habits.

Identifying a gambling addiction

Identifying a gambling addiction can be challenging, as people with this condition may try to conceal their behaviour or downplay its severity. It’s important to remember that a diagnosis of gambling addiction should be made by a qualified healthcare professional or addiction specialist.

However, there are certain signs and symptoms that can help you recognise if someone may be struggling with a gambling addiction. Here are some common indicators to look for:

Preoccupation with gambling

A person with a gambling addiction may constantly think about gambling, plan their next gambling session, or think about their past gambling experiences.

Inability to control gambling

They may find difficult to resist the urge to gamble or to set limits on their gambling behaviour. Efforts to cut back or quit gambling may prove unsuccessful.

Increasing bet amounts

Gambling addicts often escalate their bets over time to experience the same level of excitement or to chase losses. They may take higher risks and place larger bets to achieve the desired thrill.

Restlessness and irritability

When attempting to reduce or stop gambling, individuals with an addiction may experience restlessness, irritability, or even mood swings. They may become agitated or anxious when deprived of the opportunity to gamble.

Lying and hiding gambling activities

Gambling addicts may resort to dishonesty and deception to cover up their gambling behaviour. They might lie about their whereabouts, the amount of money spent, or the extent of their losses.

Financial problems

Persistent gambling can lead to financial difficulties. Someone with a gambling addiction may borrow money, sell belongings, or resort to illegal activities to fund their gambling habit. They may also have unpaid bills, maxed out credit cards, or frequent requests for financial assistance.

Neglecting responsibilities and relationships

Gambling addiction can cause individuals to neglect their responsibilities at work, school, or home. They may withdraw from social activities, experience relationship strain, or exhibit a decline in performance and commitment.

Emotional distress

Gambling addicts often experience emotional distress, including feelings of guilt, shame, or remorse about their gambling behaviour. They may also show signs of depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts.

What to do if you have a gambling problem

If you believe that someone you know has a gambling problem, it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy, understanding, and a desire to offer a genuine support. Let’s take a look at some steps you can take.

Educate yourself

Learn about gambling addiction, its signs, and the impact it can have on people and their loved ones. This will help you better understand the challenges they may be facing.

Choose the right time

Find a calm and private setting where you can have an open and non-judgmental conversation. Pick a time when the person is likely to be receptive and not under the influence of gambling-related emotions.

Express concern and care

Start the conversation by expressing your genuine concern for their well-being. Use “I” statements to convey your feelings and observations without sounding accusatory. For example, say, “I’ve noticed some changes in your behaviour, and I’m worried about you.”

Be a good listener

Allow the person to express their thoughts and feelings without interruption. Offer a safe space for them to share their feelings, challenges, and concerns. Listening with attention shows that you value their perspective.

Avoid judgment and criticism

It’s crucial to maintain a non-judgmental attitude throughout the conversation. Avoid blaming or shaming the person, as this can create a hostile environment and difficult the communication.

Provide information

Offer information about gambling addiction, treatment options, and support services. This can include helplines, counselling services, and support groups specifically tailored for gambling addiction.

Encourage professional help

Suggest that they seek professional assistance from a therapist, counsellor, or addition specialist who can provide expert guidance and support. Assure them that seeking help is a sign of strength and not weakness.

Set boundaries

While offering support, it’s important to establish and communicate clear boundaries. Let them know what behaviours or situations are not acceptable to you and how you will respond if those boundaries are crossed.

Practice self-care

Supporting someone with gambling addiction can be emotionally challenging. Remember to take care of your own well-being by seeking support for yourself, setting boundaries, and practicing self-care activities.

Tips to Prevent Gambling Addiction

Preventing gambling addiction involves adopting proactive strategies and developing healthy habits. In our guide to responsible gambling, we cover the most important factors to avoid any harm that might come from going overboard or developing problematic habits.

Also, the Better Page Channel webpage, managed by the Health Department of the State Government of Victoria, recommends the following tips to help you or your loved ones change your gambling habits.

  • Journal: Try to keep a gambling journal where you write about your gambling habits and how they might be affecting your life. You can write about how much time you spend on gambling and how you may feel before, during and after a gambling session. This will help you become more self-aware and better understand the cause of your gambling problem.
  • Goal setting: This can help you stay focused and clear about your gambling habits if you set short-term and long-term goals.
  • Be kind to yourself: Don’t be too harsh on yourself for your gambling habits and remember that you are trying your best. Write down all your positive achievements and remind yourself of all the small wins.
  • Find a hobby: Try a new activity or a new hobby that you enjoy, that can help replace gambling. Many people gamble and continue to do so because they don’t know what else to do with their spare time.
  • Self-exclusion: Take part in self-exclusion and exclude yourself from engaging in any gambling activities. Many online casinos offer this option and allow you to disable your account so you can take a break from gambling.

Gambling Addiction Resources

Many free and online resources are available for those who may be struggling with a gambling problem. We have compiled some that are available and have listed them below. It’s important to note that one type of treatment might not work for everyone and sometimes different methods might be required.


Gamblers Anonymous Australia
  • Website –
  • Phone number – 02 9726 6625
  • Email –
Gambling Help Online
National Gambling Helpline
  • Phone number – 1800 858 858
  • Phone number – 13 11 14

Gambling Addiction FAQs

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