Gamcare logo Cumbria

I think I might have a gambling problem. What can I do?

Phone for local help and advice 01946 820230 or email using our special form on ‘contact‘ page

You’ve probably come to this section wondering what you can do about your gambling and if it’s something that will ever get better. Gambling problems can often feel overwhelming and confusing and often make no sense to the people affected. It might seem as though there aren’t any options and there’s no way of taking control of the situation. The good news is that there are things you can do and help is available.

Firstly, give yourself some credit. You’ve made a start in seeking advice. You are not alone. Whether you are struggling to control your own gambling, or you are worried about someone else’s gambling, the GamCare website has a lot of information to help you cope at this stressful time.

Secondly, some good news. There are things you can start to do to take back some control and begin to feel better. This section of the site is designed to give you clear information about gambling problems, how they can develop and what you can do to start to take control if you believe you are experiencing one.


Do I have a gambling problem?

If you are not sure how much gambling has become a problem for you, you might like to use our online assessment tool. It will ask you a series of questions about your gambling behaviour. When you have finished it will give you a personalised report and advise you as to what your next steps might be.


Is gambling affecting your finances?

Are you:

  • Spending more than you want on gambling?
  • Struggling to find the money for bills?
  • Taking out loans to cover gambling debts?


If you have a gambling problem, the answer to those questions is probably ‘yes’, as gambling problems and financial issues really go hand-in-hand. A financial crisis is often what brings a person to address their gambling. It’s also not uncommon for partners, friends or family members of problem gamblers to tell us that they did not realise their loved one was a problem gambler until there were serious financial consequences such as a court summons for non-payment of debt or repossession action on their home.


Getting help for yourself.

Think about talking to someone. Either someone close to you, that you can trust, and/or a third party. i.e. a GamCare Adviser through the National Gambling HelpLine or NetLine, the Samaritans, or your GP.  Getting things off your chest can release a lot of tension, and help you to see things more clearly.

  • If you think you would like to get help for your gambling, you can ring for local help and advice 01946 820230 or email us using special form on ‘contact‘ page.
  • If you think you would like to get help for a friend or family member, you can ring for local help and advice 01946 820230 or email us using special form on ‘contact’ page.


Why do people gamble?

A common question for a person with a gambling problem is: ‘Why do I do it?’. You may be wondering that about someone you know, and wonder why they are putting themselves and their loved ones through such turmoil. If something is causing such problems, why not just stop and be happier? You might also wonder why some people seem able to gamble within their limits, and not develop such problems. You might be thinking that your gambling is a sign of weakness, or the inability to cope.

However, the truth of the matter is rarely so simple. Gambling problems are often experienced as being completely outside of the person’s control, and ‘just stopping’ isn’t felt to be a reasonable option.

Additionally, many people find themselves unable to explain why they continue to gamble despite the problems it causes in their day-to-day lives. The most obvious answer is “for the money”, but perhaps you can challenge yourself here:  When you win, do you spend your winnings on more gambling? Do you continue to gamble until you have little or no money left?

A lot of gamblers feel they are waiting for the ‘big win’, which never comes but always seems tantalisingly close. But often, they find having a big win would simply fuel their desire for more gambling, leaving them feeling trapped into a behaviour with no way out.

This would suggest that being ‘in action’ is the most important thing, rather than winning an amount of money.

There is another way of thinking about gambling, that it represents a symptom of a larger problem in life. While this might sound a bit scary to contemplate, perhaps consider whether you tend to gamble at certain times, or whether gambling is associated with certain feelings for you. It might well have played a large part in your life since you were quite young. If you think of it this way, you might realise that gambling problems are not a sign of weakness, but rather a way of coping with something bigger, in a way that on some level makes a lot of sense.


Get help for yourself or for a family member or friend

Phone for local help and advice and/or confidential counselling 01946 820230 or email using our special form on ‘contact‘ page