Harmful gambling

We know that for some people gambling can become harmful, hurting relationships and risking serious debt. Are you, or is someone you know, a harmful gambler?

As with other addictions, the consequences of gambling can have a damaging impact on your psychological and physical health, with 60 percent of problem gamblers in the UK suffering from depression and a worrying 13 percent attempting suicide.

What starts as harmless fun can escalate into a problem quickly - recognising the warning signs can help you realise when it’s time to seek help for yourself or others.

Spot the signs

There are a number of signs to look out for, these include:

  • Spending more money and time on gambling than you can afford
  • Finding it hard to manage or stop your gambling
  • Having arguments with family or friends about money and gambling
  • Losing interest in usual activities or hobbies and neglecting work, family and personal needs/responsibilities
  • Always thinking or talking about gambling
  • Lying about your gambling or hiding it from other people
  • Chasing losses or gambling to get out of financial trouble
  • Gambling until all of your money is gone
  • Borrowing money, selling possessions or not paying bills in order to pay for gambling
  • Needing to gamble with more money or for a longer period of time to get the same feeling of excitement
  • Feeling anxious, worried, guilty, depressed or irritable.

Tips if you’re finding it too hard not to gamble:


  • Pay important bills, such as your mortgage, on payday before you gamble
  • Spend more time with family and friends who don't gamble
  • Deal with your debts rather than ignoring them.


  • View gambling as a way to make money - try to see it as entertainment instead
  • Bottle up your worries about your gambling - talk to someone
  • Take credit cards with you when you go gambling.

How to get help

You are NOT ALONE and you don’t need to hide it any longer. If you have a problem with gambling, or you know someone who gambles compulsively, support and advice is available:

Are you affected by someone else’s gambling?

When someone you care about is gambling too much, it can be a very stressful situation and helping them can be tricky. They need to know how their behaviour is affecting you.

For support and advice on what you can do and the services available, visit:

  • GamAnon (external link) - Local support groups for anyone affected by someone else's gambling problem.
  • GamCare (external link) - Offers support and information for partners, friends and family of people who gamble compulsively.

David's story

It all started with a big win at the races for David Smith who found himself addicted to gambling. He bravely told us about the impact it had on his life and how he managed to beat his addiction.


Rate the information on this page

green smiley (good) orange smiley (average) red smiley (poor)

© Wigan Council