The first few months of every New Year brings a focus to finances and financial discussions, whether it’s in the context of a new year’s resolution or preparation to file taxes in the spring. Financial discussions within the family may not always be easy. Add into the mix a family member who’s gambling is viewed as problematic, and the tensions and anxiety can rise to new levels.
These days, gambling opportunities in Maryland abound. Record breaking lottery jackpots are commonplace and going to a casino is an easy drive. For those who gamble excessively, a trip to the casino, betting on a big game or buying a Mega Millions or Powerball ticket when the jackpot is high can be viewed as a “quick fix” for all financial problems, and a way to erase past losses and begin anew. But following this flawed strategy can cause even more stress and debt. Gambling should always be viewed as entertainment and not a way to make money or solve financial problems
If you are concerned about how someone in your family is gambling, there are steps you can take to keep the family and your finances safe:
-Have a conversation with the whole family about the risks of gambling and how it affects the family finances. Continue the conversation one-on-one with a family member whose gambling may put the family’s finances at risk if necessary.
-If you decide to gamble as part of the family’s recreation and entertainment, set clear limits on the frequency and amount of time and money to be spent on gambling.
-Don’t view gambling as a way to make money or solve the family’s financial problems.
-Know where the family’s money is and where it is going. Share credit files and bank statements. Creating transparency will create open dialog and help rebuild trust.
-Together with the person who is gambling problematically (when possible), develop a plan to protect the family’s finances from the gambling.
-Set up a regular time to meet and review the family’s budget, pay bills, and make financial decisions.
There is hope and help in recovery.
-Call or text the free, 24/7 Helpline: 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) or visit org for resources and counselor referrals.
-Reach out for support – Gamblers Anonymous (for the person who gambles) and Gam Anon (for other family members).
-Consider family counseling and/or financial counseling.
This year, take stock of how gambling may affect your family. Resolve to keep your family healthy and gambling problem free as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.
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