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Family Finances and Gambling

Have the conversation with your family about the risks of gambling

Financial discussions within the family may not always be easy, especially in this current time of heightened stress. Add into the mix a family member whose gambling is viewed as problematic, and the tensions and anxiety can rise to new levels.

For those who gamble excessively, a trip to the casino, bingo night or a lottery scratch-off ticket 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, especially to the family unit.  For each individual struggling with problematic gambling behaviors, approximately seven to ten people are directly affected, including family members and even co-workers.

Gambling should always be viewed as entertainment and not a way to make money or solve financial problems. If you are concerned about how you or 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.

This year, take stock of how gambling may affect your family’s finances. Resolve to keep your family financially healthy and gambling problem free as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.

    Free Booklet Download

    Personal Financial Strategies for Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers

    Download a free booklet to help promote financial wellness if someone in your family gambles

    Call or text the Maryland Helpline 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) for referrals that are offered free, confidential and available 24/7:

      • Ask to have a conversation with a dedicated Peer Support Specialist who “has been there.” Peer support is available for the individual who gambles and for the family who may be affected.
      • For Maryland residents, “no cost” treatment is available for individuals and for family members.
      • Connect with support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous (the individual that gambles) or Gam-Anon (for family members of a gambler).

    Visit helpmygamblingproblem.org for additional online support.