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Of those who enjoy gambling, most regard it as simple entertainment, but for some, it can become a debilitating problem. When the decision to gamble becomes an impulsive need, friendships, jobs, even marriages may be threatened. If you suspect your employee or co-worker has a gambling problem, it is important to understand a few basic facts:

  • Most people gamble without risk of addiction, but for some, problem gambling can quickly spiral out of control.
  • Problem gambling is not the result of boredom, weakness or irresponsibility, but rather a pathological problem, often with dire financial and personal consequences.
  • The desire to help someone with a gambling problem can manifest itself through arguments, guilt and pleading, but professional treatment is the best way to lasting change.

An obsessive need to gamble is similar to a need for drugs or alcohol; it can manifest in any part of a person’s life, even the workplace. The issue can become so desperate; employees may even commit theft, fraud or embezzlement. While this is extreme, it is never beyond the realm of possibility.

Therefore, it is important to acknowledge and address potential gambling issues early, before they have the chance to negatively affect a person’s employment and personal life.

Signs and symptoms

While initially a veiled inconvenience, problem gambling can snowball and present itself in several forms. In a workplace setting, this can range from performance deterioration to red flags such as borrowing money from co-workers or requesting pay in lieu of vacation time. Be especially aware of continually unexplained absences, when assignment deadlines are missed and the inability of the employee to concentrate on work-related material. Other indicators may include eager distraction with organizing and participating in betting opportunities, creating office pools or using work time to gamble online.

What is the appropriate way to raise the issue of a co-worker's problem gambling?

It is vital to keep a few key points in mind when approaching someone you suspect has a gambling problem:

  • Be an advocate for change, expressing your concerns in a supportive manner
  • Use work-related observations
  • Explain how the problem affects you
  • Respect personal boundaries while still positioning yourself as an aid in recovery
  • Provide information
  • Be positive, but also prepared for denial or a hostile reaction
Tips for management

While recreational gambling can be entertaining in moderation, problem gambling is not. And whether an employee at your business has a gambling problem or not, it is useful to have a company policy regarding such activity. Make the company’s position clear in regard to gambling and compose a mandatory piece of literature for all new hires (and current employees) to read.

To facilitate discussion of this issue, an organization can also provide awareness training and referrals to financial counseling.


The following resources are available:

  • Minnesota’s Problem Gambling Program
    • There are State funds available for treatment services to Minnesota residents who meet the clinical diagnosis for compulsive gambling and demonstrate financial need.
    • State-approved treatment providers can be found at www.nojudgement.com and are listed by county, city, and provider.
    • Call Minnesota’s 24-hour, toll-free, confidential help line at 800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.
  • Gamblers Anonymous
    • Uses a 12-step recovery program
    • Offers peer-led support groups
    • A list of local meetings available by calling 800-333-HOPE
  • National Problem Gambling Help Line
    • Free, 24/7 availability
    • Available at 800-522-4700
    • Answers questions and provides resource information
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Each situation is different. To help, please read the tips.

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Treatment is available free of charge for qualifying individuals throughout Minnesota.