Talking About It

Talking to someone about gambling problems can be daunting, whether you’re telling someone that you have a problem, or challenging someone about their gambling.

If you’re not sure how to bring it up, or what to say, have a read of this. You can also give us a call on 0800 654 659 to talk things through.

Telling someone you’re having problems with gambling

If you know your gambling isn’t doing you any good, and you’re thinking about talking to someone about it, good on you.

When the people in your life know about your gambling – and, more importantly, know that you want to do something about it – it makes it much easier for you to make changes.

It may be that your friends and family already have an idea that you have a gambling problem. They may react with anger, distress, shock, sadness, or they might not seem to quite understand what you’re saying. It can take a bit of time for the people who care about you to get their heads around what you’re up against.

They could also be really understanding right from the start. If people offer you help and support, take them up on it. You don’t have to work through things on your own and they want to help you because they care about you.

It helps if you’re clear and specific about what you want, or need, from the person you’re talking to:

“I’d really appreciate it if you could help me work out a budget and keep an eye on my finances for a while.”

“I need someone to hang out with so I have something to do when I feel like I want to gamble, would it be ok if I call you when I feel like that?”

“I’m going to call the Youth Gambling Helpline and sort out some counselling sessions, would you mind coming with me?”


Help your friends and family find out more:

The more the people in your life know about gambling, the better they’ll understand where you’re at and what they can do to support you.

You can:

Point them in the direction of this web site

Encourage them to give us a call at the Youth Gambling Helpline on 0800 654 659, or to call the Gambling Helpline on 0800 654 655

Give us a call and we can send you out an information pack that includes a booklet for people who are close to someone with a gambling problem

Challenging someone when you’re worried about – or tired of – their gambling

Often the person who is gambling doesn’t think he or she has a problem. Sometimes family and friends will spot the problem before the gambler does because the person in trouble might be convincing themselves that everything is okay when it isn’t.

It’s important to let them know that the reason you’re concerned is because you care about them.

Some of the ways you could approach the person are:

“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.”


It helps if you’re clear and specific when you tell the person exactly what they’ve done that concerns you:

“Yesterday you said you were only going to gamble $5 but then I watched you keep going until you’d lost $80.”

“You said you were going to the movies with your friends but I saw you walking into the TAB when I drove past on my way to the supermarket.”

“I’ve noticed that the last three times we’ve argued, you’ve gone out and spent all of your money from work for the week.”



Once you’ve let the person know that you care about them, told them what you’ve noticed about their gambling, and let them know how you’re feeling about it, it’s important that you’re willing to listen to what they have to say.

You might find they’ll say nothing. They might not be ready to hear what you’ve said, or maybe they’re just not ready to talk yet. They might also get angry and tell you it’s none of your business.

Alternatively, they might be relieved you’ve brought it up, and open up to you.

Either way, be prepared to do some listening.

Tell the person what it is you’d like them to do:

“I would like you to get some help. Please call the helpline or arrange some counselling.”

“If you decide to gamble, that’s your choice, but first I want you to direct $30 to your savings account each week.”

“I’d like you to give your mother and I signing authority on your bank accounts.”

Tell the person what you’re willing and able to do to help them. It needs to be something you can realistically fit in and that you feel comfortable with:

“If you would like me to go with you to counselling, I will.”

“I can help you set up a budget and automatic bank payments if you like.”

“I’m here to listen when you need a friend. Call me.”

“I can give you the number to call a counsellor.”