How Does Gambling Effect Relationships?

America’s love affair with gambling began long before Bugsy Siegel ever opened the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in 1946. Gambling has been traced back to China in 200 BC. It is the quintessential equalizer because anyone with a bet down has the same chance of winning.

Unfortunately, the house always wins in the end. Gambling is an extremely addictive habit that bankrupts hardworking people and hurts those around them. Family homes are even lost to gambling addictions.

A person’s gambling habit can be devastating to their family, friends and even their employer. It is important to understand the stages of the toll that gambling addiction can have on romantic partners and family members.

The Effect of Gambling Addiction on Family Members

The most common problem experienced by family members of an addict is financial stress. Mortgages and rent payments are frequently not met and children can go without the food and medicine they need to stay healthy. As addiction is often hidden, a habitual gambler will avoid telling his family about the money they have lost to cards or slot machines. This can result in consternation among family members.

The Three Phases

There are three basic phases that spouses and other such romantic partners go through when they are in a relationship with a habitual gambler. 


The first stage the partner of an addict goes through is similar to what the addict goes through themselves; they will refuse to acknowledge the problem. They will make up excuses for their partner, thinking that the gambling problem is temporary. They will be susceptible to lies their addict partner tells them about their intention to quit gambling.


Stress is perhaps the most difficult phase for a gambling addict’s partner. The gambler and their partner will take to isolating themselves from one another. A gambler’s husband or wife often feels resentment because they have to be the adult in the relationship. They might have to cover for the gambling addict when bills are not paid or when social or professional responsibilities are not met. There is also evidence that gambling leads to domestic partner violence.


There is a point where a partner simply gives up. They might feel confused and even doubt their own sanity. They can experience intense anxiety during this phase. In some extreme cases, a partner may even become suicidal.


Fortunately, there are treatment programs for gambling addiction. Treatments for gambling include one on one therapy, medical treatment, and support groups. There are also support groups for family members of addicts. Gambling treatment involves distracting a person with other activities.

If you are a family member of a gambling addict or if you are an addict yourself, there are certain characteristics you should look for when seeking treatment. You should find a comprehensive care center, that is supervised by a medical doctor. They should take precautions to make sure that your privacy is protected. Make sure their facility has security guards, that employees undergo background checks, and that they use discretion when giving out their address. The Global Institute on Addictions can provide you with a treatment plan for gambling addiction.

Gambling is a hard habit to break, but with the right treatment, the odds are in your favor.

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