Gambling addiction – continuing to hurt Australian families. Stay & support or start afresh?

Story as told to Lauren – Gold Coast Mum

One of the many reasons I started my blog was, not only to connect, create a community and to share my own stories and experiences, but also to do what I do best – help every day people (as well as extraordinary people) to tell their story.

I was recently contacted by someone who, whilst too embarrassed to be so honest with family and friends, was interested in sharing this piece of writing with the hope of it helping others in the same position know that they are not alone.
Gambling addiction is destructive. It can break up families and cause a lot of heartache.


My husband isn’t a bad man.
If fact, he’s wonderful. The light of my life. Someone I am thankful for most days.
He’s a great father, a wonderful husband/best friend/lover and a hard worker. He is caring and makes me laugh.
But he also has a serious gambling problem.

Most people wouldn’t even know he is addicted to gambling via online sports betting agencies and at the TAB. He’s deeply ashamed and embarrassed.
And so am I.

To my friends and family, I’m a successful career woman and a devoted wife and mother.
But I have a big secret. I spend most days worrying about my family’s future.

When someone catches me nagging my husband about something trivial, it’s not necessarily that I’m just a nagging wife.
It’s because I’m angry/upset/frustrated that once again our child has to miss out on an extracurricular activity or that the money we were saving for a long-awaited family holiday has yet again disappeared from our account.
I can’t help but be resentful.
There have been occasions when friends or family have probably thought that I’m some nagging mega-bitch.
But truth is, I had just found out that the money sitting in our account waiting for the mortgage to come out had disappeared yet again, or I had answered a call from a credit card company chasing my husband to make an overdue payment on yet another personal credit card obtained without my knowledge.

Gambling has HUGE ramifications.
It’s something that has always been hanging around in the background since we first started our relationship. But our love, happiness and good times outweighed the only bad point – gambling. So I ignored it.

However, these days, more and more I find myself thinking about how silly I was to be blinded by the love I have for this man to commit to marriage, and now children, knowing what I knew then.

Financially, I would have been much better off if I stayed single all these years, pocketing my tidy income instead of seeing it disappear before my eyes with nothing to show for it.

My husband hates that he causes this much hurt to our family. He truly wishes he could stop. If we could afford it, he would go away to a rehab facility for months on end and come back a new man. But obviously that’s out of the question.
He has been seeing a counsellor who has been helping to piece together the reasons behind his addiction. There’s a family history of it and various other contributing factors.

I have tried to be strong. I have tried to be supportive.
But I am over it. The same cycle continues to repeat itself.
The pattern is the same: Husband will have a bad patch, will lose all our money/rack up credit card debts, I’ll become suspicious and confront him, he breaks down and swears to never to it again, I’ll be angry/understanding/supportive/resentful.
We’ll forget about it for a week (while ignoring our problematic financial situation), I’ll ask him how he’s doing. He’ll say fine.
Then a few weeks later I’ll notice he’s acting out of character and will ask him again. He’ll confess, break down and the cycle will repeat itself.

I’ve tried taking control of the finances, but in between ferrying kids to and from school/work, I don’t have time to keep tabs of the bank account. And it doesn’t matter anyway as my husband tends to just use new personal credit cards.

Gambling really does control our lives. While I AM thankful and appreciative for everything we DO have... we can’t go on holiday, we can’t buy things we need/would like, we can’t buy generous gifts for loved ones or attend events/get-togethers with friends/family.
We have had to buy secondhand furniture despite husband spending thousands of dollars in a single day or week that could have been spent filling our whole home with new furniture.

I hope that together, we can get through this, with the help of the ongoing counselling and support (I just hope we don’t lose everything again in the meantime).


Are you in a similar situation? Do you know anyone with a gambling problem? How do you offer support? Do you have any words of advice for anonymous?

Feel free to comment below or email goldcoastmum [at] live [dot] com

If you, or anyone you know, has a gambling problem, please contact:

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  1. What a great article thank you both for sharing

  2. Hi, my son has a gambling problem and it is tearing our family apart. I am the soft one, he IS my son, I can't kick him out. He is now 30 and has been living with me for the past 4 months, he is going into a rehab centre but keeps putting it off as he has so much debt to pay and wants it cleared before going. He works damn hard, I now have control of his money. His sister, brother in law and father (we are divorced) think I am the weakest link. I know I am but I won't do tough love, I don't want him out on the streets, he is a loving, caring man and hates the hurt he has caused. He is willing to do anything to help in the interim until he goes to rehab. I'm really struggling financially, emotionally

    1. I feel for you. I hope things are improving for you now? Are you in touch with any support services/groups for yourself. I believe there are groups specifically for loved ones to help them through the struggle they're experiencing also. Best wishes to you xx

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