As gambling becomes more prevalent, it's important to protect your family's wealth from being gambled
away. To learn about the warning signs and how you can help, please check out
If you suspect a family member has a gambling problem, you must act quickly. Gambling addicts can wipe out
financial fortunes in just days.
Gamblers often keep betting as long as they have access to money. If you bail them out, they will not see any
reason to change.
Many relatives have lost as much money as the gambler as they provide financial assistance. The gambler didn't
stop gambling until they wiped out their supporters' financial assets as well.
Addicts generally won't even acknowledge they have a problem until someone confronts them with the
consequences of their actions.
If you have not already purchased a copy of
Shawn and Drew's 21 Steps to STOP Gambling System and Workbooks,
we recommend you do so. This is an excellent gambling prevention and recovery resource for every household.
We direct the following suggestions to the gambling addict's spouse. But relatives, friends, and employers should
understand they might need to protect themselves from gamblers, too.
When you act, don't worry about whether the gambler will be mad at you. In this situation, you're fighting for your
financial future. Of course, if the gambler has violent tendencies, you should be cautious.
If you believe a spouse is gambling compulsively, you immediately should consider the following:
Talk with the gambler as soon as you suspect they have a problem. By acting at the first signs of trouble, you can
minimize many of gambling's harms.
Most problem gamblers claim they can handle recovery themselves. Rarely is this true. Gambling addiction is
difficult to conquer and other problems (such as depression or substance abuse) often are associated with it. For
help, check out www.stop-gambling.com.
Quickly cut off the gambler's access to cash. In time, some recovering addicts will be able to handle money again,
but most are looking at a lifetime of living on an allowance.
Close all joint checking and savings accounts, and create new accounts in your name only.
Guard your children's savings and college fund accounts. Make them inaccessible to the gambler.
Don't allow your paycheck to be automatically deposited into an account the gambler can access.
Try to talk the gambler into directly depositing their paycheck into an account that the gambler cannot access.
Notify all retirement, investment, insurance, and annuity agents that you do not authorize any removal of funds
or loans against these accounts.
Close home equity and personal lines of credit to new withdrawals, or ask that both parties be required to
sign any future withdrawals.
If you own a family business, change its bank accounts so all checks and withdrawals must have at least two
Hide all your credit cards and blank checks so the gambler cannot find them, even if that means leaving them
with a trusted relative or friend.
Close any jointly owned credit cards. If a credit card company won't let you close an account, tell them
verbally and in writing that you won't be responsible for any new charges. (This means you cannot use this
card either.) If you must own a credit card, then get one in your name only.
Notify your credit card companies that you don't want any new credit issued without your written permission.
Notify credit agencies that you want to "opt out" of prescreened credit offers. (See
www.optoutprescreen.com.) This often is a source of new loans and
credit cards for gamblers. These offers might have your name on them, and you could be responsible for
Get a credit report for you and your spouse. This is available online. There might be credit cards or loans that
you don't know about.
Don't keep large amounts of cash on your person or in your home.
Consider removing from your home anything the gambler might pawn: jewelry, guns, collectibles, etc.
If the gambler is a legal or financial guardian for another person, ask the appropriate court to pay close
attention to any spending from these accounts.
Contact any relatives or friends who might loan your spouse money. Explain the reason you're contacting them,
and let them know you won't be responsible for repaying any loans they might give the gambler.
Check your spouse's pay stub. Make sure they haven't decreased deductions for taxes, insurance, investments,
etc. You don't want to be surprised by owing extra taxes or lacking insurance.
Ensure that all insurance premiums, such as car and life, have been paid. Are your storage facility fees paid?
Consider changing the titles on cars, RVs, boats, etc. A credit report might indicate these items have been used
as collateral for new loans.
If the casinos near you use ATMs or cash advance machines that allow self-exclusion, add your accounts to their
Contact your family accountant and bankers, inform them of your concerns, and ask if they know of any further
Don't bail out the gambler financially. This is hard to do, especially if you don't understand the consequences
of gambling addiction. Covering the gambler's debts just allows them to continue betting and postpones any
Especially don't repay any of the gambler's debts out of your own accounts. Creditors can take this to mean that
you're taking responsibility for the debts. If you must pay something, pay with a money order or a bank cashier's
Don't rush to pay off gambling debts by refinancing your mortgage or otherwise consolidating other debts. Until
gamblers have their addictions under control, consolidation just allows them access to more money. Consult a
financial advisor who is knowledgeable about gambling addictions prior to refinancing or consolidating debt.
Carefully consider whether to inform the gambler's employer. This is hard but potentially necessary, especially
if the gambler has access to on-the-job cash. If you suspect your partner is stealing from their employer, you can
be accused of knowing about the theft and benefitting from its proceeds.
Look for any financial paper trails (e.g., ATM receipts, credit card cash advances, checks to casinos,
withdrawals from retirement accounts, and loans). This will help you understand the extent of your difficulties
and plan your response.
If the gambler has embezzled any money, they are responsible for paying taxes on that money. Consider your tax
consequences. If you file a joint return with a gambler who has embezzled money, you might be just as
responsible for those taxes.
Ask the gambler if they will self-exclude themselves from the casinos. If they are willing, have them do so
quickly—before they change their mind.
Seek help from a counselor who specializes in gambling addiction. It's important that your counselor be
knowledgeable about the unique circumstances surrounding your situation.
Remember, it's important to act wisely and promptly. Unlike alcohol addiction, which slowly drains financial
resources, gambling easily can wipe out a lifetime of savings in less than a week!
Be sure to visit www.stop-gambling.com for more valuable information
on gambling recovery and how to prevent gambling harms from effecting your household.
Learn about protecting your savings accounts.
Learn about protecting your investments.
Learn about protecting your credit cards.
Return to the main Wealth Protection Tips page.