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Talking To A Problem Gambler

Often the person who’s gambling doesn’t think that he or she has a problem. Sometimes family and friends will spot the problem first, because the gambler might be convincing him/herself that everything is fine when really it isn’t.

It’s important to let the gambler know the reason you’re concerned is that you care about them. It’s also helpful to use positive communication rather than being confrontational or critical. You could try talking about how you’re feeling by using ‘I’ messages to lessen defences and keep lines of communication open. Below are some examples, but it’s important to be genuine and talk to the gambler in a natural way.

  • "You’re my friend and I’m upset because I see you doing things that are really risky."
  • "I love you and I don’t want you to hurt yourself. Talk to me about what’s going on."
  • "I can see you’re not happy at the moment and it upsets me. I want to help."

Once you’ve started the conversation, listen carefully to what they have to say in response and be patient. Don’t jump in or cut them off mid sentence, as this might drive them back into their shell or make them turn defensive. Being calm and caring is really important, but don’t allow them to make excuses for their gambling and certainly don't help them out with money, as this could make the problem much worse.

For more help and advice about talking to a problem gambler, please contact GamCare.