Example indicators that someone is experiencing gambling harm:

Thinking about gambling constantly

Often spending more on gambling than intended

Losing sleep due to worry or gambling itself

Gambling as a way of escaping from problems or relieving depression

Becoming secretive or lying about how much they spend on gambling

Falling out with family or friends because of gambling

Less involvement with usual activities or hobbies

Being restless when trying to cutdown on gambling

Missing work, education or appointments

Returning – after losing money gambling – another day in order to get even

Borrowing money or stealing to gamble

A person who is experiencing harm from their own gambling, or the gambling of someone else, might see these activities as a form of entertainment and deny any harm. The perception of someone else (such as a friend, family member or support worker) might be very different - they may perceive these activities differently and see the harm that their gambling is causing. This difference in perception is known as the perception gap.

It is important to remember that talking to someone about gambling harm can be a triggering experience and it is important that the person feels heard, supported and valued.

Talking about gambling indirectly can be a great way to bridge this perception gap.  People might be using gambling to deal with difficult emotions, so if you can think of ways to introduce gambling to the conversation through other topics you might be able to help the individual in a comfortable and supportive way.

  • Where do you go to feel comfortable?
  • How do you cope with budgeting your money?
  • If you are feeling stressed, what do you do to reduce your stress levels?
  • What social activities do you like to do with your friends?

There is no pressure for anyone to discuss these topics. If people don't want to talk about their gambling, they don’t have to. Everyone is on their own journey and providing people with resources and education in a non-judgmental way is a great way to reduce stigma around gambling harm and may encourage further conversations in the future.

Have you thought about using the Gambling Triangle activity? It encourages practical reflection on how to reduce gambling, by examining money, time and access to gambling. You can find this at the back of the toolkit.