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To Sam

My mum is gambling

dear sam, my mum is gambling on her phone but im the only one that knows. she plays slot machines online and my dad doesnt know. im scared that if he finds out my parents will divorce and/or run out of money. ive seen her gambling for about 2 years and she doesnt know that i know.


Ask Sam


Hi there,

It can be stressful when you’re worried about something your parent or carer is doing, especially when other people don’t know about it. Gambling can become a problem, not just for the person doing it but for everyone around them as well. But there is help available for a person affected by someone else’s gambling.

Gambling online, in a casino, arcade or betting shop is legal for anyone over the age of 18 in the UK. Sometimes people gamble more than they plan to, and it can become a habit or an addiction for some people.

An addiction is a behaviour that becomes difficult to control, even though there are negative consequences, like problems with money or arguments with friends and family. Someone who is addicted has strong urges to do the thing they’re addicted to and it might feel like it’s taking them over.

People can be addicted to a wide range of things, including alcohol, drugs or gambling. It’s possible to get support for addiction and a doctor can refer people to services that can help.

It’s natural to be worried about someone’s gambling and to be scared that it might affect their relationships, cause parents to separate or divorce, or cause money problems. It’s important to remember that you’re not responsible for what they’re doing and you don’t have to cope on your own.

There is support for you as a relative of someone who is gambling. Gamcare is an organisation that supports people with gambling problems and their families.

Telling someone can sometimes be a relief as you aren’t keeping your worries to yourself any more. You might want to tell the person who’s gambling that you know and you’re worried about them, and that you’re worried about the future if they carry on gambling.

Talking to a trusted adult, like another relative or a family friend, is another option and you could ask for their help and support. Whatever you decide to do, talking to a counsellor at Childline first can help you to get ready for what happens next.

Thank you for your letter

Take care,


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