Family Supports

Saskatchewan Problem Gambling Helpline

Problem Gambling and the Family

Whether you have just discovered a gambling problem or have been living with it for a while, you are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems.  You are heart-broken by your spouses/partner’s betrayal and the financial devastation.  You may be emotionally drained, depressed, and frightened for the future. It is difficult to accept what started out as a recreational activity has turned into a personal family nightmare. 


Signs of a Gambling Problem 

  • neglect and work responsibilities;
  • disinterest in other social activities;
  • jeopardizing family, relationships and job to pursue gambling activities;
  • irritability and restlessness;
  • increasing time and money spent on gambling;
  • remorse and guilt about gambling; 
  • irrational belief that past losses can be won back;
  • physical symtoms of stress-headaches, sleep disorders and depression;

​Financial Trouble that may Indicate a Gambling Problem

  • your spouse/partner not allowing you to access/review financial statements investment notices;a need to borrow money from family, friends or relatives;
  • a need to borrow money or items normally purchased with cash;
  • having to refinance loans or juggle repayment plans;
  • receiving regular notices of late payment;
  • receiving demands for payment in full from creditors;
  • using money from bank accounts or cashing in RRSP’s, bonds or life insurance policies for something other than what had previously been agreed to;
  • using greater amounts of net income to pay debts.

You didn’t know there was a Gambling Problem

​If you have just uncovered a gambling problem in your family you may be asking yourself: “How could this have happened to me? my family?    

You may have felt for some time things were not quite right, but you were not exactly sure what was wrong.  Every time you questioned your spouse/partner about something that seemed out of the ordinary, they had an explanation or story. And, even though at times the explanation/story provided did not make sense, you believe it because you love and trust your spouse/partner.

 Do not blame yourself for not knowing.


The gambler was able to keep their activity a secret by doing one or more of the following things:

  • Lie or make up stories in order to cover up their gambling activity;
  • Control all the family’s finances or let their spouse control the daily finances while they establish a complex network of ways to obtain credit;
  • Control the mail by having it sent to their place of business or a post office box; or
  • Forge loved one’s signatures for personal loans or mortgages.

When dealing with the effects of a gambling problem you will have feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, isolation and desperation.  You feel like your life, all your thoughts are consumed by the problems you are facing.  Thoughts and feelings of this nature are common. 

Take the time you need to sort through these feelings.  There are solutions to what might, now, appear to be insurmountable problems.  Solutions to complex personal and family problems are available.

It is import to establish a safety net of supportive family, friends and community support agencies.  They can help you work through the complex problems you are facing.  Each person’s support network is unique; each community provides some kind of service. 


The following can provide initial and/or long-term support:

  • The Problem Gambling Helpline - call, live chat, text or email.  A crisis gambling counsellor can help assess your situation and connect you to ongoing support.
    Health region problem gambling counsellor.  See Directory of Services.
  • Credit Counselling Society, provides free credit counselling services.
  • Self-Help organizations.
  • Parents or other family members.
  • Friends.
  • Religious leaders​

    Are you living with a compulsive gambler? Gam-Anon 20 Questions pdf. 


Problem Gambling Family Guide – Help for Family and Friends   

This guide was developed to provide families and friends with information about problem gambling, the impact on families, how children are affected and the financial consequences.  The guide provides hope and the information needed to confront the effects of gambling addiction on your family.

The Problem Gambling Family Guide includes:

  • What you should know about gambling
  • Signs of gambling
  • What is the impact of a problem gamber on your family
  • What you should know about the financial impact
  • Do's and Don'ts for gamblers and spouse

Review of the help that is available


Gambling Addiction and Compulsive Gamblers True Stories

Although this video originates in the United Kingdom it provides an insight into how gambling impacts the family and the gambler. It was described by one of the viewers [ recoverd gambling addict] as a sensitive and accurate depiction of the disease.