Start the conversation

Gambling is a hidden harm. It can be difficult to notice if someone is experiencing harm from their gambling. Gambling harm is highly stigmatised meaning that it is difficult to engage people in conversation about the harm it is causing in their lives or they may not be aware that gambling can be harmful. If you have noticed changes in people’s behaviours, you could prompt a conversation by asking questions like:

“You sound a bit worried about how much money you have spent on gambling recently. How does that make you feel?”

“I have noticed that you seem more withdrawn than usual and spend a lot of time in the bookies. Could we have a chat about this?”

“I have noticed that you are playing more games on your phone than usual. There are strong link between gaming and gambling, we could look into this together.”

As many people don’t classify gambling as a harm, it may be helpful to start a general conversation about gambling and the harm that it can potentially cause before starting a conversation about their own gambling.

It is sometimes easier and more organic to engage people in a conversation about gambling harm when you are in a situation with them that relates to their gambling:

If someone speaks about the bets they have placed when watching the football, you could say:

‘How do you feel when you lose your coupon?’ ‘Does losing bets on football encourage you to place other bets during the week?’

If someone is increasing the amount of scratchcards they are purchasing from the shop, you could ask:

‘How does it make you feel when you scratch your scratchcards?’ ‘Why have you started to purchase more scratchcards?’