Problem Gambling- Helping A Neighbor Posted On


It’s mid-summer and hopefully everyone is enjoying time together.  With an endless supply of festivals, fairs, block parties, pool parties and nights by a fire, we spend so much time with our loved ones and our neighbors.  It’s these relationships that can save an individual and their loved ones from the struggles of problem gambling. 

Being Aware

We all look forward to the summer.  Many of us pack our schedules with so many exciting things that time seems to get away from us.  Even though time seems to be skipping by quickly, you may have noticed that a neighborhood friend has been going through some changes. 

Perhaps this neighbor is someone you consider a friend you like to sped time with, but they seem to be disappearing.  Maybe this neighbor is someone you see on a regular basis and chat with in the street when you see one another, and they seem more tired lately. Or this neighbor may be someone that you see in passing, and they’ve started to brag about money or possessions. If you do notice changes, do you know the underlying cause?

Signs of a Gambling Problem

These changes that you notice could be signs of a gambling problem.  There are many signs that could hint that this person is struggling with problem gambling, but they may be subtle and easy to overlook.  Here are some things you may have noticed:

  • Mood changes such as the person being more anxious or emotionally distant. These mood changes can from relationship trouble or problems at work due to gambling.
  • The person my seem more tired from late nights or sleep troubles. They could be gambling late into the night, or have trouble sleeping because of thoughts related to gambling.
  • The person may brag about money or possessions more often. These items may have been won or purchased through gambling. 
  • This person may want to engage in gambling activities to celebrate good times more often than usual. If this person is gambling more often, they may start to struggle to find joy outside of gambling activities.
  • The person may be asking to borrow money when they didn’t have financial trouble before.This person may be finding that they are accumulating a large amount of gambling debt and struggle to pay bills. 

The Effects on You

All of these signs could be warning signs of a gambling problem.  These signs could feel very uncomfortable for you, especially if this is a person you enjoyed spending time with.  You may be feeling sad that this person is no longer enjoying time with you. Maybe you feel frustrated that this person owes you money and hasn’t paid you back.  Or you may feel angry with yourself for not seeing these signs sooner.

If any of these things feel true, remember that this is not your fault.  Someone’s struggle with problem gambling is no one’s fault.  You may want to do something and feel helpless, but there are things you can do.

Take Action

Have a chat with the person.  Remember these people are your neighbors and it may not be out of the norm to talk to them. Start a conversation about anything. Show interest in their life and see what they say.  You could ask normal questions like, “how’ve you been?” and “what have you been up to?” Tell them how you feel by saying things like “we’ve missed you around lately.”  Showing interest and just acting like a friend can offer an opportunity for someone to open up about what they’re going through. 

Invite them to things.  Inviting them to things can help rekindle a friendship.  If problem gambling is affecting their life, your invite may remind them about local gambling-free activities.  It may also remind them of the fun they had that they may be missing out on.  This may help them decide to change their own behavior, or it may help them notice that there may be a problem, if there is one.

Additional Resources

Learn more about problem gambling.  Learning more can help you see if problem gambling might be responsible for the changes. Problem gambling can be a devastating disorder that has a terrible impact on the person struggling and their loved ones.  Learn all you can.  A great place to start is the Understanding Problem Gamblinge-book.  You can also learn a lot more about problem gambling by viewing the resources page on the KnowTheOdds.orghomepage.

Find additional help. Maybe you’ve spoken to your neighbor’s family and you’re all thinking that gambling is the problem.  Now what?  There are Problem Gambling Resource Centers (PGRC) across the state of New York.  You can find contact information for your local PGRC by visiting  Each center is staffed by amazing professionals ready to hear your story and offer information, resources and connections to treatment options.  These services are for both the person struggling and their loved ones who are affected by their gambling. 

We hope you’re having a fantastic summer by spending quality time with those who are important to you. If you need help or support for anything related to problem gambling, we’re here for you!