Call or Text the Maryland Problem Gambling Helpline: 1-800-GAMBLER

Having the Conversation

Having the Conversation about Gambling

Gambling is a socially acceptable activity for adults (over the age of 18). You can find gambling activity everywhere such as: the six Casinos here in Maryland; Lottery scratch offs at your local convenience store; the monthly bingo game at the Church; March madness tournament pools each year at work; and even the weekly poker game at a friend’s house.

It’s never too early to begin a conversation about gambling with your whole family.

Below are conversation tips to get your started. Note: Always begin the conversation in a calm, non-judgmental way and introduce open-ended questions to encourage dialogue.

Having the Conversation with Adults (including family members, friends, and spouses).

  • What do you like about gambling?
  • Tell me about the first time you gambled or bet and won something.
  • How do you balance gambling with other forms of entertainment?
  • What part of your budget do you allocate to gambling?
  • How would you know if gambling is getting out of control?

Having the Conversation with Children

  • What is the most fun game that you and your friends like to play?
  • How much do you think your friends bet/wager on sporting events like the March Madness Basketball Tournament or “The Big Game?”
  • Why do you think adults like to go to the casino or bingo parlor or buy lottery tickets?
  • Some people say that gambling can be addictive like drinking alcohol, or smoking or doing drugs: what would you say?
  • How many advertisements have you seen that are about gambling?

Gambling: Any game or activity where you risk money or things of value on an outcome that is not guaranteed.

Do you think you or someone you know may have a problem with gambling behavior?  Check out the warning signs.

Gambling can be fun, but for some it can become a serious problem, even an addiction. An individual with a gambling problem will negatively affect 7-10 people within their immediate circle.

Having a conversation with someone who you think is gambling too much or whose gambling activity is out of control can be difficult.  Remember that you can’t stop someone from gambling; only the individual can make that decision.  But you can show concern.

  • Begin the conversation in a calm, non-judgmental way.
  • Let the person know that you care about them
  • Tell them you’re concerned about how they are behaving when they gamble.
  • Tell them and give them a specific example of what they have done: e.g., “I am upset because I see you doing things that are hurting our family.”
  • Tell them how their behavior is affecting other members of the family (or other staff at work): e.g., “I am and our children are feeling ignored, isolated and worried about you.”
  • After you have calmly communicated your concerns, what you have seen and what you feel, pause/stop – allow the person time to respond and listen with a non-judgmental attitude and posture.
  • Rarely will the individual respond positively or without minimizing or denying there is a problem. The individual who gambles problematically usually will need time to consider what they have heard. 
  • Let the person know what you would like them to do.
  • Let the person know what you are willing to do to help.

We Can Help!

You are not alone in having a conversation about problem gambling:

A trained counselor can provide additional resources and help.

Peer Support for the individual gambler and family members can support you and connect you with the resources you need.

Schedule an appointment with a Counselor at NO COST to you.

Do you or someone you know have problems with gambling behavior? Help and Hope is available right now, it’s free, confidential and 24/7. 

Call or Text the Maryland Problem Gambling Helpline TODAY! (1-800-426-2537)

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