What is harmful gambling

Gambling can happen online, on licensed premises or between friends. Some examples of gambling are:

  • betting on sports or casino games
  • playing bingo
  • buying scratch cards

Some parts of gaming are similar to gambling, such as buying loot boxes or trading skins.

For some people, gambling can become harmful, and this can have a serious impact on:

  • relationships
  • finances
  • health

Harmful gambling affects the gambler and those close to them, such as partners, children, wider family, and friends.

Harmful gambling can lead to:

  • reduced household budgets
  • poor performance at work or school
  • relationship breakdown
  • mental health problems
  • suicide in extreme cases

If you are struggling to cope with your own or another person's gambling, you are not alone.

When considering the impact on family and friends, it is estimated that up to 1 in 6 people could be affected by harmful gambling in Birmingham.

You can watch a video to find out more about the impact of gambling on friends and family.

Signs of harmful gambling

Recognising the warning signs can help identify when it might be time to get help for yourself or others.

Common signs of harmful gambling include the person:

  • gambling more than they plan to
  • feeling guilty about the way they gamble
  • wanting to stop betting but feeling as if they cannot
  • hiding betting slips, lottery tickets or money for gambling
  • borrowing money and not repaying it
  • losing time from work or school because of gambling
  • feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling
  • harming or losing a significant relationship, job, or education because of gambling

You can find out how safe your or a loved one's gambling is through GamCare's test. It only takes a few minutes, and it is free and anonymous.

Page last updated: 17 March 2023

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