Signs and Symptoms

Problem gambling can be addressed early if you recognize the signs. These can range from continually late or missed bills, unexplained behavior, a sudden need for secrecy, or random disappearances at odd and inconsistent times. If something seems unusual, it deserves your attention.

Questions For Concerned Others

Whether you’re a spouse, friend, or employer, if you find yourself wondering about someone’s gambling behavior, it’s important to pay attention and know when to speak up. Because problem gambling is a real and serious addiction, it deserves an honest conversation. You’ll need to be clear, direct, and compassionate in sharing any concerns and be prepared to help them find solutions.

Consider the questions in this eight-question assessment to give you more insight.

Where can you get help for someone you care about?

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 and are listed by county, city, and provider.

Call Minnesota’s 24-hour, toll-free, confidential helpline at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.

Support Groups


  • Uses a 12-step recovery program
  • Offers peer-led support groups
  • A list of local meetings available by calling 1-800-333-HOPE


  • Peer-led support group for spouses, relatives or close friends
  • Provides immediate support in a crisis
  • List of local meetings available by calling 1-800-333-HOPE


  • Free, 24/7 availability
  • Available at 1-800-522-4700
  • Answers questions and provides resource information

What to Say to Someone With a Gambling Problem

Talking to someone about problem gambling is never easy. It is important to remind them that you truly care for their well-being. Be specific and direct about your concerns; try to listen without judgment. Above all, insist on professional help. Offer to make the call for them, if needed, and reassure them that you will offer your support as they go through recovery.

Having trouble starting a conversation?

Each situation is different. To get started, read the tips below:

Tell them you’re concerned.

Express to them how important your relationship with them is and that you want them to get help for their problem gambling.


_________, I need to talk to you about something serious. I’ve noticed recently that you haven’t been your usual self, and I’m concerned. Your relationship with me is very important, and I don’t want anything to damage it. I want to know if we can talk about what might be going on?

Be specific about your concerns.

Talking about finances can be difficult, particularly in relation to problem gambling. Tell them how their gambling negatively affects their relationship with you. Be specific and use examples.


I’m concerned about the extent to which gambling has become a part of your life and how it’s affecting our relationship. You are a very important part of my life.

Don’t judge, instead listen.

If you want them to hear you out, you need to give them the same courtesy. Allow them to speak their mind, and let them know you heard what they have to say.


__________, I hear what you have to say and want to help you find a solution before the situation becomes worse.

Say what you want them to do.

Ask them to seek counseling or enroll in a gambling recovery group.


I’d like to help you find a way to fix this. I know of a 24-hour, confidential hotline you could call (800-333-HOPE) and a few gambling recovery programs. I’d like us to explore one of these services.

Offer to help; explain why you care.

Remember to explain how much you care about them and what you want them to do. By expressing your concern, you can clarify your feelings regarding their gambling and make them accountable for their addictive behavior. Be non-judgmental and offer to help.


I want you to know that I am here to help in any way I can. I wouldn’t have come to you if you weren’t so important to me. If you need support, you have someone you can count on.

Keep the door open for future talks.

There is a difference between being aggressive and being firm. You can be direct without alienating your parent. If you engage them in a hostile way, they will most likely shut down and ignore your attempts to help. Handle the subject with care, so they feel like you are a resource in their recovery.


__________, you are a good person. You’re human. Let’s deal with this together. Take it one step at a time.

Youth & Gambling

Young people, in particular, are at greater risk as they are three times more likely to develop a gambling problem. Research has shown that on average, four to eight percent of 12-17 year olds struggle with gambling problems, while another 10-15 percent is at risk of developing a disorder.