The Gambling Toolkit

Help for problem gambling

What is problem gambling?

Making the odd bet or playing the lottery can be fun, but when gambling gets to risky levels it can become a problem.

Why do some people gamble?
  • To forget about responsibilities
  • When they feel depressed or sad
  • Are bored, especially if not working
  • When they drink or use drugs
  • When they get angry with others or themselves
  • If they start gambling very young
  • Simply don’t feel able to control their gambling
  • Have one or both parents who have problems gambling

Friends and family

Being a partner of someone with a gambling problem – or being their parent or child – is hard and can be distressing.

Loved ones often try to hide the size of the problem. Sometimes they feel their only options are to borrow, lie or steal to pay off debts.

Friends and family need support. Help is available for them too.

Do you need help?

Have you or someone you know

… bet more than they can really afford to lose?

… been criticised for betting or told that they have a gambling problem, regardless of whether or not they think it is true?

… felt guilty about the way they gamble or what happens when they gamble?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions during the last year, help is available.

Top 10 tips to take control

  1. Pay the priorities first, such as mortgage, rent, council tax, food.
  2. Leave credit and cash cards at home when you go out to gamble.
  3. Set how many times a week you will gamble. Be specific and name the days.
  4. Take a time-out. Gambling companies must offer short breaks from 24 hours to 6 weeks, or longer options for a minimum of 6 months.
  5. If you use gaming machines or a betting account including online casinos, ask for a time and spending limit.
  6. Think of gambling as entertainment rather than a way of making money. Always be prepared to lose – if you win, know that it is chance.
  7. Never spend your savings or investments on gambling.
  8. Ask friends and family not to lend you money if you ask them.
  9. Spend more time with people who don’t gamble.
  10. Talk to others about your worries or concerns rather than ‘bottling’ them up.

Free and confidential help

ARA provides free and confidential help for people experiencing problems with their own gambling or anyone affected in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, North Somerset, Bath & North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Wales.

Contact us on 03301340286 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm) or

83% of people we help make significant changes

“I’d like to say how thankful and grateful I am for what my counsellor has explained to me over the weeks. It will stay with me for life.”

“My counsellor has been a good listener and really helped me to get some understanding around my gambling.”

“It’s completely changed my life and I can’t believe how the work we have done has had such a positive effect on so many areas of my life. A big thank you to my counsellor who has been so understanding, helping me feel comfortable to talk to her about difficult things without feeling judged.”

“My counsellor helped to make the experience calming and non-judgemental. I felt able to be open and honest. I will take away valuable tools and experience from these sessions. I would recommend this service to others.”

Credit: Gambling Commission, Gamble Aware, NHS England, Royal College of Psychiatrists