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

For more information about getting help if someone close to you has a gambling problem, see:

You can also call Gambler's Help on 1800 858 858 or Gambler's Help Youthline on 1800 262 376 for free, confidential, professional advice and support. These phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you would like to chat live with a counsellor online, visit gambling help online. This service is also available 24/7.

Find out more about the many ways to get help, including help for young people.

Support, advice, counselling

Read more about how we are putting families and friends at the forefront of our thinking in reducing harm caused by problem gambling.

Read the paper (PDF - 630 KB)