For those who enjoy gambling, it is an activity regarded as harmless entertainment. But when someone becomes obsessed with gambling, chasing more wins and hiding severe losses, intervention is necessary.

Forty-eight states have legalized gambling and eight in 10 people report having gambled on games of chance – it’s likely, you may already know someone on their way to a gambling problem.

Signs and symptoms

Although it might not seem obvious, friends can often notice problem gambling much earlier than a family member and/or spouse. Peers influence the decisions we make and are naturally disposed to helping us. If you think someone you know may have a gambling problem, consider these key warning signs:

  • Have they asked to borrow money from you or someone you know while providing a limited explanation for why they need it?
  • Do they repeatedly suggest going to a betting venue or go there alone even when you have plans?
  • Do they brag about gambling wins on a regular basis (without ever hearing about losses)?

What is the appropriate way to raise the issue of a friend’s problem gambling?

Friends are some of the best advocates a person can have. When speaking to a friend with a gambling disorder, it is important to be firm, while still offering to aid in their recovery. Do not accuse, but state what you want them to do. Explain how their gambling is affecting your friendship and the way you view them as a friend. Be upfront and honest, but be sure they understand that you truly want to help and are always ready to listen.

Where can you get help for your friend?

One of the best ways to assist someone struggling with a gambling problem is to know the resources available to you. The following resources are available:


One of the best ways to assist someone struggling with a gambling problem is to know the resources available to you. The following resources are available:

Minnesota 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 help line 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

National problem gambling helpline

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


• 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

Having trouble starting a conversation?

Each situation is different. To help, please read the tips.


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

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

PDF: Tips for Talking to a Friend About Problem Gambling

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.

Example: _________, 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 with a parent can be difficult because of family dynamics, particularly in relation to problem gambling. Tell them how their gambling negatively affects their relationship with you. Be specific and use examples.

Example: 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.

Example: __________, 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.

As the younger generation, you are in a unique position to help your parent receive the help and care they need. You need to intervene for the sake of their psychological, emotional and financial health. Ask them to seek counseling or enroll in a gambling recovery group.

Example: 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.

Example: 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.

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