If you think that someone you love is suffering from a gambling problem, it’s natural to want to help. While change is up to the individual to seek help or even to self-exclude, there are ways you can help.


Knowing what to look for 

If you’re wondering if someone you know and love might have a problem, here are some signs that may indicate they may be experiencing difficulties. The more signs a person shows, the greater the likelihood that he or she may have lost control of their gambling.

  • Gambling for longer and longer periods of time 
  • Lying about how much or how often they gamble
  • Missing work or school to gamble
  • Neglecting personal or family responsibilities to gamble
  • Using gambling as an escape
  • Gambling with money needed for paying bills
  • Spending more money to recoup losses

Many older adults participate in gambling for social connection and entertainment, and to replace time that used to be spent at work. Spending time gambling can be an exciting way to enjoy a morning or afternoon, but when played in moderation. 

The best way to help your loved one is by checking in with them often and having a conversation. Research shows that older adults are the least likely to look for help or support. 

If you need a little assistance getting the conversation started, try some of these:  

  • I noticed you’ve been going to the casino more often than you used to, what’s changed?
  • Ask them about the games they are playing. This website is a great place to start the conversation and review the concepts.  
  • Ask them about their other hobbies and look for ways to encourage them to take breaks or do other things and not just gambling
  • Or, call the Problem Gambling Help Line, 24/7, toll-free at 1-800-306-6789

Support for a spouse or loved one

The best way to provide support for a partner who may have a gambling problem is to have an open conversation about it. Here are a few things to help you get started.

  • Prepare examples of how the person’s gambling has had a negative impact on you and others.
  • Remember that the behaviour is the problem, not the person.
  • Try not to use judgmental language, as this may only make the person defensive. Many problem gamblers feel vulnerable already.
  • Find the right resources if the person is open to getting help.

Let them know you will support them in their efforts to regain control.

Kids & gambling

Did you know kids are more likely to gamble than drink, do drugs or smoke, yet they’re far less prepared to handle and understand the risks of gambling. That’s why it’s important to start the conversation early and here’s how to prepare yourself:

  • Go through the website and learn as much as you can about the games they are playing and understand the key concepts and common myths
  • Talk to them about the difference between skill-based games, like video games and sports, where practice can pay off, versus gambling, like slots and the lottery, where the outcome is random and unaffected by practice
  • One of the best things you can do is practice healthy and responsible gambling habits yourself.
  • Studies conducted worldwide have found the average problem gambler started gambling at age 10
  • Kids are exposed to gambling images almost every day — from the corner store that sells lottery tickets to TV ads for poker and the local casino
  • The types of gambling activities with the most participation by kids under 18 are Scratch & Win tickets, poker and betting on the outcome of a game
  • Kids who say their parents have gambled in the past year are significantly more likely to participate in gambling activities themselves
  • If you’re concerned, there are some signs to keep an eye out for which could be an indication of a gambling problem if he or she:
    • Has friends who gamble regularly
    • Is obsessed with the results of professional sporting events
    • Is often playing around with dice, playing cards or lottery tickets
    • Lies or is secretive about gambling activities
    • Borrows or takes money from others to gamble
    • Money or possessions go missing from the house

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Managing online content

While most online gaming services attempt to prevent children from accessing their services, young people say it’s quite easy to gamble online. If you’re a parent, you can incorporate content-filtering software to help prevent your kids from accessing online gambling sites. Read on for different options.

Content-filtering software

Content-filtering software is designed to help control what internet content and resources users have access to. It can be applied to any computer to prevent access to websites with objectionable content, including gambling and gaming. It can allow password protected access to certain individuals so that content is blocked for those who need it and accessed by those who don't. Some programs even allow users to limit the amount of time spent accessing the internet.

How to find content-filtering software

There are many content-filtering and parental control products available on the internet. An internet search will reveal a variety of providers, options and information on these tools. Try searching using keywords such as:

  • "Content Filtering Software"
  • "Parental Control"
  • "Internet Blocking Software"

Seniors & Gambling

Make the most of your retirement. Balance gambling with other hobbies.
When you’re retired, gambling can be a fun, social activity. While most seniors find the right balance between gambling and other aspects of life, there are some factors that could increase the risk of developing a problem with gambling.

  • Increased leisure time in retirement, which could potentially lead you to gamble more than you intended.
  • The transition to a fixed retirement income, which can increase the impact of gambling losses.
  • Major life changes that could lead you to gamble to escape other problems.

Tips to Make Sure Gambling Is Always Fun

Enjoy other hobbies.

Whether it’s reading, golfing, or just taking some time away from the tables or slots, balance gambling with other hobbies.

Set a budget. 

Keep gambling fun by setting a budget. Make sure you’re never playing with more money than you can afford to lose.

Set a time limit.

It can be easy to lose track of time when gambling. So plan ahead, take breaks and set a time limit before you start gambling.

Talking to Seniors About Gambling

Do you know a senior you think might be at risk for having a gambling problem? Seniors may be developing a problem if they:

  • Start to spend more of their leisure time gambling
  • Lie about how much they’re gambling
  • Neglect other responsibilities and obligations
  • Ask to borrow money
  • Use gambling as an escape or distraction
  • Believe a big win is just around the corner

The best way to check in on the senior in your life is by opening a dialogue. Here are some tips to help start the conversation:

  • Seniors’ welcome direct communication. If you notice that a senior in your life is going to the casino more often, ask them why.
  • Try asking them what leisure activities they engage in. If gambling comes up, it provides an opportunity to talk further.
  • Many seniors are not aware of the resources available to them. Let them know that there’s a confidential, round-the-clock support available for them, should they need it.
  • A lot of gamblers misunderstand odds. Discuss the odds of the games they play. 

Illustration of a couple sitting on a couch with two cats

GET HELP. If you are concerned about your gambling or someone you know, contact the Problem Gambling Help Line at 1-800-306-6789 or visit Where to Get Support.

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