Gambling, Gaming & Technology Use
Knowledge Exchange

You’ve Just Found Out about the Gambling

This may well be a very difficult time for you. Gambling problems can stay hidden for a long while, so family and friends are often shocked when they find out about them. Problem gambling may create great hardship for family and friends. Savings, property or belongings may be gone or at risk, and large debts may have built up. Conflict and arguments can make home life stressful, plus you may have to deal with employment, legal or health issues.

Help is at hand

It’s normal in your situation to feel scared, angry, betrayed or overwhelmed. You’re under a lot of stress, so it’s important to take good care of yourself and to get support. You’ll find many resources on this website that can help you.

If you need help right away

If you’re short of money for basic needs—such as food, housing, and medicine—or if you fear for the safety of anyone in your family, then your situation is urgent. If that’s the case, seek outside help right away. One option is to call the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline at 1 888 230-3505. Another option in Ontario is to call 211 on your phone; 211 can provide resources in your community. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.

One step at a time

You might want to throw your energy into trying to get all the facts and solving all the difficulties you’re suddenly faced with. But gambling problems and their consequences aren’t resolved in a day. You may not learn the full story of the gambling all at once. It can take time for a person with a gambling problem to face all their debts and losses, and to be open about them with the people who need to know. So it’s important to give yourself time to deal with issues step by step, and to get support if you need it.

Self-help guide

This site includes a Self-Help Guide for Family and Friends. This tool can help you learn about, and cope with, some of your challenges. You’ll find links to this self-help guide throughout the site. So when you’re ready, click on it for more help.

Counselling options

Counselling can also be very helpful. It’s a place to talk about the challenges caused by the gambling problem, and about its consequences for you and those close to you. It’s safe and private, and you won’t be judged.

Depending on your needs and location, individual counselling, couples counselling and family counselling are available. In Ontario, problem gambling counselling is available free and also offers support to family and friends, even when the person who’s gambling isn’t in treatment. To find counselling in your area, please contact the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline.

Overcoming the problem

There is hope. People can overcome problem gambling. Those close to them can recover from the stress, hurt and difficulties caused by the gambling. Discovering the problem can feel overwhelming, but over time it’s possible to work through the challenges. This website can help you along your path.

Self-Help for Family and Friends
Does someone you care about gamble too much? With these interactive excercises, learn why they gamble and what you can do to help.
Gambling Quiz
Answering these nine questions will help you understand if gambling is having a negative impact on your life.
Self-Help for Those who Gamble
Do you gamble? These interactive tools will help you explore, cut down or stop gambling.
Monitor Your Gambling & Urges
Use this tool to keep track of when you gamble, or feel the urge to gamble. Mobile App also available.
Introductory Video
View a short introductory video to learn more about the Self-Help Gambling Tools.