ACT Gambling Support Service Home

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Having a family member or friend struggling with gambling harm can be hard to watch. Sometimes you don’t know what to do to help. We can guide you to explore strategies to help manage what’s happening to you or someone you know.

Help and advice

What are the signs of gambling harm?

Gambling may not always cause immediate harm to you or those around you, and sometimes it’s hard to recognise signs when it is impacting on your life.

Getting help may be useful if:

  • It’s causing you distress.
  • Your spouse or partner loses the money needed to buy essentials.
  • Your spouse or partner lose a car or home because they gambled the money needed to pay the debt.
  • It is affecting your sleep, eating, general health or functioning.
  • You feel confused and stuck and don’t know how to move forward.
  • Your family and friends have distanced from you.
  • You don’t know how to support your gambling partner, family member, friend or colleague.

Talking to someone who has a lot of experience in this field and who empathises with you can be very helpful in feeling clearer and empowered to take charge of your life.

Want to know more about the signs of gambling harm and access more resources in the ACT?

Visit the Gambling & Racing Commission website.

How much gambling is too much?

Do you know how much time and money a family member or a friend you know are spending on gambling?

Here we offer you a tool to calculate how much of their income they spend weekly, monthly and annually on gambling.

Additionally, this tool allows you to compare their gambling to other Australians.

The Gambling Help Online Calculator can give you a better picture of how gambling affects their life.

This is just an indicator of where they may sit.

Is gambling affecting your relationship or your health?

Gambling harm can affect your relationships and general health, including issues with drugs and alcohol and family violence.

We would like to share more resources available in the following links:

Additionally, on Relationships Australia Canberra & Region website you can find information and support on relationship and family counselling, specialised family violence counselling, counselling for LGTBIQ community and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

How to respond if you are worried about someone else’s gambling?

If you are worried about a family member or a friend’s gambling, we recommend you:

  • Start a safe conversation.
  • Listen without judgement. 
  • Be kind and patient.  Try to understand that this might be complex. Change is not a simple thing.
  • Research and learn about gambling. 
  • Encourage them to get support. 
  • Provide them with links or information about gambling harm and strategies that they might be able to use like those available on our Services and Resources page.
  • Some friends and family members have supported their friends or family at risk by not gambling with them and helping to avoid access to gambling opportunities.

We also recommend you:

  • Avoid judging or lecturing the person.
  • It doesn’t help to act as if you are the expert or if you think it is your job to try to ‘fix’ the person.
  • Just simply telling someone to stop gambling or trying to force them to change through guilt or shame are generally not effective.
  • It doesn’t help to cover for denying, justifying or minimising the person’ gambling to yourself, others or them.
  • Gambling with another person or supporting their gambling practically or financially is not helpful.
  • Do not give them money.

Often just talking things through, sharing ideas and expressing feelings and thoughts freely in a space without judgement or pressure, means that people come up with their own solutions. Visit our Services and Resources page for more information.

What happens when you contact us?

We are here for you. At the ACT Gambling Support Service we offer assistance and support if you have been affected by a family member or friend’s gambling.

We provide gambling and financial counselling, education and prevention initiatives to gambling harm and referrals to other community agencies when necessary.

All our support is free and confidential.

Contacting the ACT Gambling Support Service

Organise a callback

Talking to someone who has a lot of experience in how to manage gambling harm can help you feel clearer about the options available.

We provide free and confidential support in a number of ways.

We listen without judgement and/or unrealistic expectations.

Call us on 1800 585 858 or send us a message.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

View our resources

Anyone can experience harm from gambling, even if you are not the gambler. It’s important to look after yourself. We offer you guidance and assistance to manage the effects of a family member or a friend gambling.

Ways you can make a difference

Experiencing gambling or gambling harm from a family member or a friend can be hard. If you are impacted by someone else’s gambling we recommend you:

  1. Get support for yourself: make time and talk to someone you trust or one of our gambling counsellors.
  2. Read and investigate about gambling so you understand the issue.
  3. You may need to make some difficult decisions about your relationship with the person who is gambling. That might involve determining some boundaries financially or otherwise, putting some emotional or physical distance between you. Accessing relationship counselling or mediation may help with this.

4. Get help with your finances: in some cases, control of household income may need to be taken from the gambler to minimise the risk to the family. Free help is available through Care Financial Services.

5. Take action to manage your stress levels: your loved one may take some time to change. How much time is often outside of your control. It’s important to look after your wellbeing at this time too. See friends, look after your health, rest, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

6. Remember that you are not to blame for another person’s gambling that is causing harm.

Remember that if you need help and advice, we offer free and confidential Services and Resources to support you.

Help on starting a

Teens and gambling

Teens could gamble at home or at school. Parents need to pay attention to signs of gambling harm and possible change of habits in their teens’ routine.

Teens could be eating less or more, they could have problems focusing on or remembering things, depression, anxiety, problems at school falling grades, attendance or behavioural issues, money problems or missing possessions in the house.

What parents can do?

  • Talk to your teens and listen to what they do with their friends, places they go, hobbies and interests.
  • Explain the risks and consequences of gambling.
  • Limit or eliminate gambling at home. Help them develop an interest in other activities.
  • Be the role model. Your teen will learn from your gambling habits.
  • Monitor your teen’s devices for gambling apps.

Youth gambling harm has been associated with significant health and mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, isolation, increased risk for other addictions, and criminal behaviours.

If you are a young person or a parent concerned about gambling harm, we are here to support you. Visit our Services and Resources page for more information.

If you need information relating to mental health, work, study, alcohol and other drugs, visit the Headspace website for more information and support.

International students and gambling

Research has found that international students tend to experience twice as much gambling harm than domestic students.

International students are vulnerable to engaging with gambling in Australia because it is a new way of entertainment since gambling might be banned in their home country. Also, there are more accessibility and exposure to gambling options.

International students affected by gambling harm could experience health and mental health impacts including anxiety, isolation, lack of sleep, school’s absenteeism, poor grades, loss of money, accommodation and financial debt.

If you are an international student going through this process or you know someone that may need help, our counsellors are here to support you.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and gambling

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, rates of gambling harm among Indigenous Australians are higher than in the general Australian population and international Indigenous and First Nations populations. Gambling harm rates are higher among men than women.

Gambling harm in Aboriginal communities has been linked to drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, traumas, depression and feelings of not belonging to the community.

Like any other Australian, Aboriginal people experience the consequences of gambling harm including financial hardship, debt and poverty, mental, physical and spiritual problems, domestic violence and crime behaviours.

If you would like to talk, we are here to support you. Our counsellors provide a range of resources and information to help you understand your goals and ways to achieve them.

To find more social, emotional and cultural wellbeing online resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People you can visit Wellmob.

Support services

Financial Counselling

We work in partnership with Care Financial Counselling Service to help people in financial stress offering counselling and information about financial matters.

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Often just talking things through, sharing ideas and expressing feelings and thoughts freely in a space without judgement or pressure, means that people come up with their own solutions.

Learn More

Peer Support

Our Peer Support builds safe pathways for people to come together and share common experiences and concerns so seeds of hope can grow, which can remind and inspire us that life will not always be this way.

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Community, Education and Engagement

We work to break down the myths about gambling and gambling harm so together we can build a stronger, more supportive Canberra.

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Free Helpline

1800 858 858

(free and confidential)

Open 24 hours, 7 days a week Gambling Help Online