Protect Yourself From A Compulsive Gambler


For the Real Victims of Compulsive Gambling

If you are a compulsive gambler, you have my sympathy, but you may want to skip this article. It will upset you. If you are the spouse/partner, parent or child of a compulsive gambler then the advice I’m about to offer may save your sanity and your financial future.

As the adult child of a compulsive gambler, and someone who’s grappled with my own addictions, I feel I’m in a good position to offer some sound advice. I am not a trained counselor or psychologist, and it is definitely a good idea to seek the help of a licensed professional for support. In the meantime, some helpful tips can avert disaster until you and the gambler get the help and support you need.

This article is for the families, the silent victimss of a destructive, progressive disease that can wipe out a family’s life savings and financial future in a matter of days. A compulsive gambler is not thinking about whether his or her family has a roof over their head, or food on the table. Active gamblers are consumed with placing the next bet, and they don’t care where the money comes from. That may sound harsh, but it is the truth. It is an ugly truth that most gamblers are not willing to discuss until they get into recovery.

Additionally, the disease compels gamblers to lie compulsively as well. When you have to spend a large portion of your time covering your tracks and keeping your activities secret - lying becomes a way of life. When you make promises you can’t keep, the embarrassment and humiliation of constantly letting down the people who care about you the most forces you to lie.

The Longer You Deny, The More You’ll Lose

Many families and spouses of compulsive gamblers say they never suspected a thing, until their bank accounts were wiped out. That may be true, but there are usually subtle signs that something is amiss. Are there some months where you’re short of money? Are there other months where everything is ok and you have money to pay the bills and splurge on extras? Are you constantly fighting with the gambler because you can’t figure out where their paycheck is going?

Unless one of the breadwinners has an income that fluctuates wildly, this kind of financial instability is a red flag. A gambler’s finances are a roller coaster. They may borrow from savings to place bets, then win money back and replenish their bank accounts.

My father was able to siphon a lot of money from my parent’s joint accounts. This went on for years because my mother was in denial and was willing to ignore most of the big, red flags that had been waving in her face for decades. She was willing to trust someone who had demonstrated, on many occasions, that he couldn’t be trusted.

Admit That There’s a Problem

As the adult child of a serious compulsive gambler, I feel confident saying that the reason many gamblers get away with their money problems for as long as they do is because the people around them live in denial. This denial cushions family and loved ones from dealing with a horrific problem in the short term. In the long term, the consequence of family and friends living in denial has a far-reaching impact, both financially and psychologically, on the people who are intimate with the gambler.

Every day that a gambler’s problem goes unchecked, is another day that they are slowly sucking their family dry of income and assets. If they are borrowing from other relatives and friends, they are slowly burning bridges because nothing will sour a relationship faster than unpaid debts.

The sooner you can admit that your partner, child or parent has a serious problem – the sooner you can warn family and friends not to lend them money. There are going to be people who will lend them money in spite of warning, but your conscience will be clear because you told them and what they do with that information is not your responsibility – alerting them and being honest is.

Don’t Be Afraid to Tell the Truth to others – Don’t Hide The Problem

On the day I stepped in to stop my father from any more plundering of their mutual checking and savings accounts, I knew I needed help because I was butting into something that was legally none of my business. Luckily, I knew the staff at the local bank. I also knew that the only way to get support was to admit the truth to people I didn’t know well.

One of the reasons I got cooperation from the staff in my parent’s bank, was because I walked in and pulled a manager aside and explained the situation. I basically said, “I need your help, my father is a compulsive gambler and he is draining their accounts.” When the staff heard this they advised me to get my mother into the bank to switch their accounts into her name and my name.

Once you have people on your side and they understand the severity of the situation, doors will open and help will materialize from every corner. People want to help if they can. If they don’t know what’s going on, there is very little they can do.


Protect Your Finances and Assets

It’s important to be proactive about your finances and check bank statements and credit card statements for yourself. Make sure money is not disappearing. Gamblers will use every trick in the book to fool their loved ones. They are not being deliberately malicious, they are simply giving in to the throes of an incredibly powerful mental disorder that compels them to lie, cheat and steal from their own families to satisfy their insatiable craving.

What my father was actually doing was moving money around between their checking and savings accounts to cover the slow depletion of funds. He would transfer money from their savings to their checking. Then he would go to the bank teller and get a receipt printed that showed an inflated balance. After he showed my mother the fake receipt, he would return to the bank and move the money back to the savings account.

He had been doing this for a long time and getting away with it, but he must have sensed that at some point he would deplete their savings - and the game would be over. That’s when he decided to go for the jugular: He managed to figure out a way to forge a withdrawal slip from a large, tax-deferred annuity my mother had been saving up for 30 years for both of them in their retirement. I’m going to skip the details of how he pulled this off, because I don’t want to give any of the CG’s reading this any ideas.

Needless to say, he cleaned out half of their life savings and spent the next year blowing it on blackjack, his game of choice. He had managed to talk my unsuspecting sister into typing up a fake financial statement. This is the power that CG’s have over their children - the power of persuasion and the uncanny ability to make the implausible sound reasonable. Luckily, my sister said something to me about what was going on, and I alerted my mother immediately.

My mother is a very smart woman, but when it comes to her husband she lives in denial about the person she’s really been married to for 50 years. It’s too late now to blame anyone, but if she had been more proactive over the years about limiting my father’s access to all of her accounts, this wouldn’t have happened.

As it turns out my mother is one of the fortunate ones because her gambler husband was only able to clean out half of her life savings. Thanks to my intervention, the other half is now safely out of my father’s reach.

I am the only one in my immediate family who suspected my father was up to no good from a very tender age. My immunity to my father’s tall tales has saved my parents from destitution and mentally prepared me for the eventual fallout. Not all children are so lucky.

In many instances, children grow up wanting to believe and trust someone who can’t be trusted. As a result, these adult children grow up living in denial about a parent’s addiction. They choose to remain silent even as their elderly parents are headed for the poorhouse. Additionally, these adult children frequently seek out dysfunctional and abusive relationships, because that’s what was modeled for them.

Protect yourself, and your future, by having your own savings and checking accounts that no one else can get into. In addition, cutting the gambler off financially is the next big step. Once you’ve locked the gambler out of your finances and income, you no longer have to buy into the dysfunction of fighting over money. If you are economically dependent on a gambler then it may be time to consider a divorce and let the courts take care of forcing the gambler to pay their way in alimony and child support.

Do Not Give the Gambler Any Money

Giving a gambler is money is the same as setting fire to a hundred dollar bill. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but unless the gambler is cut off from an external money supply they will never hit bottom and seek help.

Furthermore, the people closest to the CG will never achieve any long-term financial stability if money is constantly going to bailing out the gambler. It is up to the people around the gambler to stand up for themselves and refuse handouts.

An active gambler is not healthy or sane enough to repay debts. Until they get into recovery, compulsive gamblers are money pits – and you can only help them by cutting them off. If you really feel compassion for the CG, and really want them to seek help – then you have to cut off the supply of money. Once they run out of people and money, many of them are ready to admit they need help and do something about it.

Gamblers are not just addicted to “staying in the action”, they are also addicted to money, because money is the only thing that feeds their incessant compulsion to gamble. This is why gamblers frequently hoard money by stashing away extra cash for the next round of gambling – even if they’re short on the mortgage. Their priorities are not rational.


Do Not Listen to Lies, and Don’t Lie for Them

Lying is a way of life for compulsive gamblers. The extraordinary amount of sneaking around doing things they know they shouldn’t be doing forces compulsive gamblers to lie about their whereabouts, lie about why they have no money…and lie about their addiction. You cannot believe what they say because after a while they lose the ability to tell the truth. Once their addiction takes over, getting the truth out of them is impossible.

If you’ve been out all night on a gambling binge, getting up and going to a job is not a top priority. This is why so many gamblers have trouble holding down a job. If you are the spouse of a CG, you may have been asked to lie for them on many occasions.

You may fear that they will lose their job, or that their reputation in the community is in jeopardy. Well, guess what? They’re going to lose that job eventually anyway. Their reputation is already eroding, and lying for them or covering for them is just delaying the inevitable crash – and it’s making you a liar as well, which leads to more insanity.

Don’t buy into the lies and don’t argue with a gambler, because their insecurity and guilt will just make them angrier. Deep down every gambler knows that their addiction is destroying them and their relationships, but without help they are unable to get humble or get honest.

You can let the gambler know that you know they are lying, and then simply go on about your business. You can also let them handle their own mess. Don’t make calls for them or help them cover their tracks.

A responsible adult takes care of their own affairs and does not ask other people to clean up for them. You can let the gambler know that you are no longer willing to lie for them, and then make a commitment to stick to it.

Don’t let yourself be manipulated by a sad story and a lot of tears. You are enabling when you help the gambler lie. The sooner you stop, the sooner they will have to deal with the fallout from their addiction.

State Your Expectations and Boundaries Clearly and Stick to Them

The term “abuse” is appropriate because lying to the people you love is emotional and psychological abuse. Spending the rent money or grocery money on gambling and then lying about it is financial abuse. Once you face the reality that the gambler is abusing you, even if it’s not intentionally malicious, it is easier to set emotional boundaries and live your own life. Whether you opt for counseling, Gam-Anon, Codependents Anonymous, or any kind of spiritual support group. It’s important to get clear on what you want your life to look like, with or without the gambler.

People who have lived with an addict for a long time are so tuned in to the addict, and to dealing with the addict’s problems, they lose the ability to tune into their own feelings and take care of their own needs. Once the partner or child of a gambler starts living life on their own terms, the gambler either decides to get their life together and get help, or they won’t. Either way, at least you can then decide whether to end your relationship with the compulsive gambler, or stick it out. If everyone stays stuck in the pattern of addiction and enabling – it’s impossible to move forward.

Take the Space You Need

Life with a compulsive gambler is frequently chaotic and dramatic. There’s always some kind of crisis, or the people around the gambler are trying to avert a crisis. The amount of energy it takes to deal with any kind of active addiction can drain even the hardiest soul.

Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, protected your finances and decided to maintain strong boundaries - it’s ok to give yourself permission to put some distance between you and the gambler.

I remember feeling suffocated after I helped my mother protect her assets. I would get phone calls from my father asking to get together and chat about what happened. The problem was, I was tired of a lifetime of having this man invade my emotional space. It was always about him, and how it wasn’t really his fault, and how no one was on his side. The list of complaints was a mile long, but accountability and personal responsibility for his problems had always been missing.

I was tired. In my case, I needed a year off from looking at my father. In a particularly troubling conversation, shortly after his deceit was uncovered, my father claimed he was thinking of killing himself. Now if I believed for a moment that he was serious, I would have taken the appropriate action. As it was, I knew it was a ploy for sympathy.

Such is the extent of the emotional manipulation a gambler will use on those closest to them – the people who have been brainwashed into listening to idle threats and other assorted nonsense.

I asked my father if he was serious about suicide, letting him know that I would have an ambulance there in five minutes. He didn’t know what to say and hung up. Needless to say, I know his tactics better than anyone – and knew he would never have the courage to kill himself.

I knew what I was doing in his case. However, I would not recommend treating other instances of suicide threats lightly, because gamblers do have a very high suicide rate. You know your loved one better than anyone, so you know whether a threat is genuine or you’re being manipulated – trust your instincts.

If you suspect your compulsive gambler might actually hurt themselves - then you should call an ambulance immediately. Threats of suicide in gamblers under 18 should always be taken seriously and handled with immediate medical intervention.

Meanwhile, it’s important to have outside interests and a support group of friends. Building a strong foundation in your own life of people and activities that are important to you – will help you get some clarity on your situation with the gambler.

While it’s recommended in Gam-Anon not to isolate the gambler, I am of the mind that it’s ok to take some personal space. Once again, the gambler needs to see the consequences of their actions. We cannot be responsible for another grown up. Taking some space from the gambler allows us some breathing room and gives the gambler some time alone for some possible reflection.

Keep information and resources handy in case it’s needed, but do not try to talk the gambler into getting help. It’s a waste of time.

Each gambler is unique, as is each situation, but there is one common denominator with any addiction: The addict must be willing to get honest, humble and seek help. No force in heaven or earth can move a gambler to stop gambling, unless they get serious about recovery. Recovery is different for everyone - it can be a combination of therapy, support groups and a spiritual practice, but no matter how the gambler chooses to face their disease, it is ultimately up to them to want to get well.

Much of the dysfunctional dynamic between a gambler and their partner or family comes from the people around the gambler constantly nagging and pleading with the gambler to get help. They do not realize that they are trying to reason with a disease rather than a rational person, which is impossible.

If you’re going to threaten to leave by a certain time, then have a plan in place for how you’re going to leave, and then just do it. Active addicts are arrogant, selfish and caught up in something they can’t control. They will not respond to threats. However, being left to fend for themselves will frequently give them time to reflect. It also gives them time to hit their personal bottom, on their own, without any well meaning loved ones cushioning the impact.

It’s a good idea to gather as much information as you can about resources for help and support, and have it on hand for yourself and the gambler. Families get so caught up in making the gambler the problem that they neglect to take a close look at their own issues. Anyone who has lived with a gambler, or been in a long-term relationship with one, is going to have some emotional problems. No gets away unscathed. There is a wealth of support groups like Gam-Anon and Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) to help the families of gamblers.

Keep information on hand about support groups and facilities for the gamblers. If the gambler becomes willing to seek help, you don’t have to scramble for information, you can send them directly to the closest Gambler’s Anonymous meeting. Once again, the decision to actively seek help has to come from the gambler. You cannot force an addict to get help unless they are willing, but you can offer support the minute they become humble and willing.

Forgiveness Doesn’t Come Easily, But it Will Come

It is easy to hate a compulsive gambler. They are not pleasant to deal with. The buildup of lies and deceit eventually becomes too much for families to deal with. It’s not uncommon for family members and friends to stop speaking to a gambler for good. Shutting out the gambler forever becomes the only way out for a lot of people.

Ultimately, the people closest to the gambler have to work through a series of emotions before they can forgive the gambler and themselves. Rage, sadness, regret and grief are all valid emotions and acknowledging them and working through them, whether in therapy, a support group or religious group, is the healthiest way to work towards making peace with the compulsive gambler.

Forgiveness is a process that can take months or years, but eventually, everyone needs to make some kind of peace with the gambler. Forgiveness is the only way to move forward and move on.

© by Macteacher 2013

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Comments 60 comments

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

Congratulations on HOTD! You are so deserving of this accolade! Thank you for sharing your story with us. It pains me to hear what you have been through with your father - I can't believe how duplicious he is. What a shame for your family. I admire you for the strength you have to not be pulled in by his gambling problem and becoming an enabler. You give great suggestions and advice and it is good to hear it from someone who has been through it. I am not a gambler and fortunately I have never known anyone who is an addicted gambler, but I certainly know what to do if I do run into someone like this. I wish you well in all your future endeavors.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi suzettenaples,

Thank you so much. Growing up with a compulsive gambler, who I'm still dealing with, is definitely not easy. However, the experience has taught me a lot. Part of my mission on Hubpages is to help others who are dealing with difficult life issues. If my experience and advice helps just one person - then I've really accomplished a lot. I am thrilled to get HOTD! Thank you for reading. :-)

swilliams profile image

swilliams 2 years ago from Arizona

What a detailed and eyecatching article! Great job! And very insightful.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author


Thank you very much. :-D It just goes to show that some of the worst experiences can be used to help everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 2 years ago from Upstate New York

Good luck to you in the future, an your mother and father. I do hope your father is successful and seeks help with his problem. It's a very hard long row to hoe to overcome an addiction. Though it isn 't easy, I'm sure its worth it.

DreamerMeg profile image

DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

Amazing hub. My husband's grandfather was a gambler and left his wife and children, who ended up living in a house with holes in the wall stuffed with straw and the children getting put into the "poorhouse" because the mother couldn't afford to feed them. That leaves scars for life, not only on those children but on succeeding generations too.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Paradise7 - Thank you. It is a hard road. My father has really compromised his relationships with his family. Prayer helps. :-) Thanks for the good wishes. :-)

DreamerMeg - Yes the real tragedy are the children who grow up with gamblers. Their lives are compromised in so many ways. Your family's story sounds horrible. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina

This is such an excellent article- I applaud you for sharing both your experiences and information that is so useful. I was married to a gambler and did eventually divorce him. I can relate to the sneakiness and the lying. It is exhausting to be part of that relationship. He didn't stay in therapy long, nor did he attend GA for long. He was in denial too.

I've been in a long term relationship with a gambler for over ten years, off and on, and have finally reached a point of moving on. It's not an easy decision and having been married to a gambler, I was aware of his issues, didn't lend money, etc. but the immaturity of the relationship, the imbalance of priorities and the down right selfishness has taken its toll. I deserve better. He doesn't agree that he is a CG or an addict. I won't be around to convince him otherwise.

Congratulations on a well written and useful article. :) UP/I/U and sharing.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi Denise,

Thank you for the compliment! I worked very hard on this hub. Getting through my own rage at my father took a couple of years. I'm glad you are moving on. Relationships are a lot of work to begin with, but trying to maintain a relationship with an addict is like raising a difficult child, with no end in sight. Children at least grow up, compulsive gamblers never do. They are perpetual children. You most definitely deserve better and better will show up. :-)

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"Growing up with a compulsive gambler, who I'm still dealing with, is definitely not easy. However, the experience has taught me a lot." - This can clearly be seen from your article.

You provided a great deal of information here and I am sure many people will find it helpful. Thank You for that.

I have no issues with gambling myself, the most I ever spent in a casino was sixty dollars and that was probably like six years ago or so. I do not like casinos much, their whole purpose is to take people's money away at best. In the worst-case scenario people commit suicide ... an ugly business in my opinion.

I had one friend who I no longer know how he is doing. Last I heard he was stealing food from grocery stores and re-selling it to keep up his cocaine and gambling issues. Sad story, he was such a good guy ...

I will share the hub and thank You again for writing it.

Good luck and all the best! I wish your father Healing.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi Mr. Happy,

Thanks for the great feedback. All addictions are horrible, but gambling is especially insidious because it's a billion dollar industry. I also take exception to legally encouraging people to destroy themselves. I'm sorry about your friend, so many sad stories. Thanks again for stopping by. :-)

Ali 2 years ago

It is absolutely one of the best article I have ever read,

After reading it.

it helped me a lot to reclaim my healthy lifestyle back

And the road to success start from here without gambling

Once again thanks for you tips

And wish you all the best

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Dear All,

I'm so glad it helped you. Thank you for stopping by. :-)

Stupid Wife 2 years ago

I am your mother, and I am very weak. I have 5 children and give in very easily. He guilts me into believing our financial problems are from personal obligations. If he didn't have his problem we'd have at least a million in savings. Yet, our house is in foreclosure, and our oldest is nearing high school graduation. I'm worn and tired. Oblivious and numb to what is happening. How does one make 8-10 grand a month (his income) and have two months of unpaid bills? I'm really not the tigress protecting her cubs. I didn't try hard enough. It's difficult to stand up to a gambler, I've protected his secret for years. Until recently, a family member heard from the grapevine, yeah, I denied it at first. I have a child that is gifted beyond compare in tenth grade, top of the class, who figured it out as well, and worries if college is going to be based on student loans. Yet, I sit and allow such an addiction to consume our lives.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Dear Stupid Wife,

I'm sorry, I don't know what to say. I think it would be helpful to attend a Gam-Anon meeting or a CoDA meeting. You would get support from other wives who are in the same position. You might feel better about standing up for yourself. If my mother could finally take a stand, so could you. Good luck, my prayers are with you.

Nayera 2 years ago

Ioved reading your article my father is a CG took all of my moms saving gambled it away , asked my husband for money pretending he has cancer and that he shouldn't tell my mom nor me about it .. He took money from my husband for 4 years .. Calling and asking for Mandy for his treatment side note he doesn't live in the US and saw my husband only twice so it was easy to just lie and get money from him . My poor husband because he loves me so much gave my dad most of his savings ... I'm devastated I found this out 3 months ago that their saving is gone plus he ows my husband a big amount. Now my mom lives with him alone in Europe and I live in the US and my husband is so hurt and mad (understandably) he does not want to help my mom with getting divorce so she can come here and leave my father ... I'm so sad and helpless because I love my mom and want to help her get divorce and come live near me and at the same time I love my husband and don't want to put him in any more problems ... What should I do? Any advice?

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi Nayara,

I'm so sorry that your father has taken advantage of you and your husband like this. Your husband has a right to be angry and hurt. I don't know what to suggest other than trying to raise the funds you need to help your mother.

Maybe you could ask other family members or get a part time job? Only you know what's available where you live. Be creative, maybe babysitting or cleaning houses for awhile until you get the money together for your Mom. One word of advice - do not send your mother any cash. If they have joint accounts your father will get his hands on it.

If she's going to see a lawyer, pay the lawyer directly. If she needs a plane ticket, buy it for her yourself. No cash. Good luck and please keep me posted. You will get your mother out of there, have faith.

Nayera 2 years ago

Thank you so much for the fast reply !!!!!! That's a good suggestion .. My mom wants to still live with him they have separate bank accounts and he leaves her alone (doesn't want money) therefore she said she will just live with him for now. If it gets violent or if he wants money she will get divorced. He knows we all know what he did ... I'm so mad at him. He had everything now he has nothing (not just money) RESPECT he lost it all....

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author


Best of luck to you and your family. I'm glad your Mom has separate accounts. But if Dad runs out of money, he will go after hers - so all you can do is keep an eye out. My prayers are with you.

Nayera 2 years ago

Thanks a lot !!!

Luli 2 years ago

How do you live with the fact that your dad is a CG? Is it ever possible to live with someone that is a lier and betrais you all the time ... Should you give the person up or fight? (Or just live with it?) what advise would you give to someone who hates the dad for what he did and still does and doesn't think that person is the same anymore .... Idk I think that father picture in your head gets destroyed and you feel betrayed... Does your mom still live with dad?(if) How does she manage ?

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Dear Lull,

My mother will never divorce my Dad. They come from a time where women stood by their men. It's a mindset I don't understand, but I have to accept out of respect for my mother. It's her choice. I try to view it as an illness. If my father had cancer and was cranky all the time, I would be understanding and do my best to deal with it.

I do not have any financial dealings with my father, and he knows the subject is off limits. I have a cordial relationship with him and I leave it at that.

He's sick, being angry serves no purpose other than to make me unhappy. He has always been sick, so my opinion hasn't changed. I've never had a real father, so I don't know what that looks like. I guess, over time, you develop compassion while protecting yourself from the person. It's a tricky balance. Thanks for stopping by.

Overwhelmed 2 years ago

I am married to a gambler and liar. He drains all of my energy that I am so tired I can't fight back anymore. It's all too much.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Dear Overwhelmed,

You're not alone, all of us who are related to a gambler feel that way. If you can't reach out to family, please try a Gam-Anon meeting. Spend some time with people who are going through the same thing. It will help you feel better. My prayers are with you.

Lin 2 years ago

Wished I had read your article before my CG ex gambled away our money and left me and kids with nothing. Your article was very straight and honest - well done. I am exhausted from all the drama and lies, emotionally wrecked and trying to rebuild my life and start again for sake of kids. I hope to salvage my own sense of self one painful step at a time. Good luck to all you out there x

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi Lin,

I"m sorry for you loss. I'm sending prayers that you and your kids get back on track, and you will. Good luck!

Lin 2 years ago

Thank you. Your article has made me think of going to a support group. As you say, anyone who has lived with a CG comes out of it emotionally damaged (as well as financially ruined!). You feel so isolated and the lies told leave you breathless with pain. You lose all sense of trust, in those around you and your own judgement. I think speaking with others who have gone through same or similar would help. To those who have spoken of their exhaustion in dealing with this, often women also taking primary care of the kids, I hear you. X

kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hello, macteacher,

I loved this piece of fantastic writing. You nailed it. And the topic, presentation and graphics were superb. Compulsive gambling, to me, is on the same level as alcoholism--both are killers running wild in our land and country.

I gave you a Vote up and on every choice because you deserved it. I wish you my very best on HubPages and in any other writing pursuits you may have.

I am going to leave you some fan mail and follow you.

I would love for you to read one or two of my hubs and then become one of my followers.

A hubber cannot have too many friends.


Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Thank you Kenneth,

It took a long time to write that hub. It's a very challenging subject for me for many reasons. I believe legalized gambling is going to become like heroin amongst the elderly. With millions of aging baby boomers retiring and a lot of extra time on their hands, it's a ticking time bomb. I'm going to take a look at some of your hubs right now. :-) Thanks for your kind and supportive words. :-) It means a lot.

Kenneth Avery 2 years ago


You are very welcome for my words of truth. I sensed when I read the first words of your hub that you had a very-high IQ and lots of talent in the writing field. I love that.

And you did a fantastic job on this subject. I wish you would do more on similar subjects.

My hubs are mostly tongue-in-cheek, but I have some abstract/prose poetry hubs that you might enjoy.

Just having you follow me is a huge compliment. Thank you and God bless you.

Your friend in the south,


gile 16 months ago

I'm leaving my husband in few weeks. Today, he just said that there is nothing I can do for him to stop. That he does not care what I do.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 16 months ago from New York Author

I'm so sorry. At least he is being honest, and not lying to you about his addiction or trying to cover it up. My prayers go out to you and your family.

SoTiedandScared 15 months ago

how do you get you child to leave? he is a compulsive gambler, he has partial custody and won't grow up. he has children with several different women and he is abusive. How can I MAKE him leave? He pays for NOTHING except his child support. Everything else is spent on gambling, and then he "borrows" when he runs out.

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macteacher 15 months ago from New York Author

I guess if it was my kid, and he was over 18, I would give him 30 days notice that he is to be out of the house. When the 30 days were up, and he hadn't moved a muscle, I would wait till he was out, pack up his stuff and put it on the curb. Then I would change the locks.

It's really up to you. Are you serious about getting him out? I don't mean to be harsh, but you're the one enabling his lifestyle by not setting any boundaries with him.

Compulsive gamblers will use and abuse the people nearest to them - until those people have had enough and stand up for themselves. You might want to try Gam-Anon or CoDa or any of the 12 step groups. Meeting other parents in the same situation, and finding out they're handling it might help. My prayers are with you, and I hope you are able to save yourself and your sanity from your son.

fiona 14 months ago

Hi macteacher excellent article I left the CG over two years ago. We are now caught up in legal seperation which will not recognize gambling unless I can prove it very frustrating

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macteacher 14 months ago from New York Author

Hi Fiona,

I don't know much about legal separations. There must be a way to get bank records of large cash withdrawals. In these days of digital currency, large withdrawals are suspect. I don't know your situation, but if you're seeing a lawyer, you might want a second opinion. Good luck!

Fiona 13 months ago

Hi macteacher, unfortunately my husband was self employed & able to work for cash as well as cheques, so he had full control of what went into our account. It was cash earnings that was going on gambling & I couldn't see.

Thankfully I got out from under it & am trying to build my own life. But I found educating myself on this addiction is so essential to coming to peace with it.

I found your write up so clear it illuminates the cracks & crevices we fall into when faced with having to deal with this seriously debilitating, disempowering & destructive addiction it really helps to read it to help a person to understand you really have to take back your power when dealing with this addiction

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macteacher 13 months ago from New York Author

Hi Fiona,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you're able to distance yourself from your husband's addiction. Knowledge is a powerful thing with this disease. I wanted to help other people struggling with this. Good luck in rebuilding your life. :-)

Scott 12 months ago

I can feel my 12 yr old sons and my world crumbling around us . My wife is a compulsive gambler makes great money but has nothing but debt and has gradually gotten towards the point of not contributing towards any bills. She is miserable all the time arguing about money . And uses the excuse that I don't spend any time with her . I have gotten in the habit of working a lot of overtime to pay the bills in fear of losing our house . My son wants to either kick her out or leave her . He wants to live with me because he thinks she won't care for him and is tired of the mental abuse . And I would want him with me because I love him . I am at wits end I've had enough of the lies the many jobs the outbursts arguments and lies it has been very mentally draining . What can I do ?

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macteacher 12 months ago from New York Author

Hi Scott,

I'm so sorry for you situation. As long as your wife is not willing to get help and take responsibility for her addiction, nothing will change. I can tell you it will only get worse, as I've watched my parents unravel over the last couple of decades. Your son and you deserve a sane and safe life.

Please seek out Gam anon meetings for you and your son. If you do not leave and get help, your son is eventually going to resent you for not doing anything.

I can't tell you what to do, but if it was me I would seek a divorce and try to move on to a normal life. You can only save yourself and your son. She needs to hit bottom before she gets help. If you're keeping her afloat, there's no reason for her to seek help. I'm sending prayers your way.

Mags Northern Ireland 12 months ago

I am so hurt by my now ex partners deceit i feel that i will never get over this. He is a clever manipulator who took advantage of my illnesses to handle all our bills and shopping so was always busy running around! . Your article has given me some insight into the workings of his true mind but i am completely devastated that someone i trusted with my heart and soul could hurt me so much.

Thanks again

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macteacher 12 months ago from New York Author

Dear Mags,

I know it's hard to believe, but it really has nothing to do with you. He has a disease, so he cannot think clearly. If it's any consolation, most gamblers hate themselves for what they do, but they can't stop. Just take care of yourself and focus on rebuilding a better life.

Gregory 12 months ago

This article was very helpful. My significant other has had a problem with gambling for a while, but with a few exceptions has managed to keep it from having a real significant impact on our family. However, I just recently discovered that she has taken all of the cash we have been saving for our 6 year old son, from birthday and Christmas gifts, etc. When confronted, she does not get defensive or lash out, she will just look at the floor and cry. But this is not the first time something like this has happened, and no matter what she cannot seem to stop. I don't have definitive proof she is still gambling, but there are a lot of signs there, and she does not deny it when I tell her what I think is going on. We don't have joint accounts, and no major assets together as we are not married - I know things could be worse. But she went seeking out our child's savings that I purposefully hid from her, and took it all without a word. To me that is unacceptable and I am seriously considering ending our relationship of several years. I am most worried about our young son. He is well-adjusted, good at school, and loves his family, and this is all he has known his whole life. If we separate, I am afraid he will never be the same. I wish she would seek the help she needs before anything escalates even further, but I know that is absolutely her decision, and there is nothing I can do make that happen.

Thanks again for the helpful words in your article.

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macteacher 12 months ago from New York Author

Hi Gregory,

You're smart not to marry her. As long as she's not able to raid your assets, you can go along in the relationship for a long time. Clearly she has problems...and problems not dealt with only get worse. When there is a child gets complicated. I hope she's on a payment plan to return that money to your son. Good luck!

Jess 11 months ago

Married to a CG for 4 years now, 2 of those he's been a CG right when we brought our 1st child into this world. Took out my 401K to make ends meet & lie after lie he promised he was done. I always believe him too. And right when the trust is built he wipes us clean. After changing all bank accounts all into my name only, he still has managed to continue to steal from those accounts, by forging my name on checks made out to him, and stealing my debit card (which I keep under my pillow at night) he knows when I'm in a deep sleep & will get it & go in middle of night to wipe all of my cash out. Well 2 kids later, lost jobs, maxed out credit cards, & major debt all in my name I'm in denial with hopes he will change, & pay it back but needing to leave him for the sake of my kids futures! But I can't because I love him! I can't keep asking my family for money due to my husband gambling every penny I make away! My kids need a sane mother not one that is constantly freaking out about finances!

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macteacher 11 months ago from New York Author

Hi Jess,

I'm sorry for what you're going through. I know how hard it is to be married to a CG. And I feel for your kids, who are growing up with two parents that are not functioning, and unless you do something to change your situation, your kids will struggle with problems for the rest of their lives.

I know this because I have struggled for most of my life because of growing up with an abusive CG for a father, and a mother who tolerated his madness by staying with him.

The fact that you have to sleep with your ATM card under your pillow, indicates that you and your children are living with a level of insanity that's unmanageable...and you're part of the problem. Your husband is not being a real husband or father.

Please get some help before it's too late and you're all destitute, if you aren't already. Codependents Anonymous has meetings everywhere and you should check it out. Your husband won't change, only you can change. Sending prayers to you and your kids.

Pkey 5 months ago


I began a relationship with an ex alcoholic and compulsive gambler just over a year ago. We love each other but I don't know if I am doing to right thing staying with him. I am finically independent with my own house and a good stable job. He never asks me for money and fully admits that he is a compulsive gambler. I am clear in my head that I will always keep our finances separate. Since I have known him he has tried to stop three times. Firstly time he made a big annocement held my hand etc etc. It was touching and I was proud of him. It lasted a week. Second time it was a quieter affair, he decided a bad day was his last. I wished him luck and told him I loved him and hoped it worked. This time lasted four months. He admitted to gambling three times over the last two weekends. Is disgusted with himself and has stopped. I genuinely think he is trying and one thing I am certain of is that he really wants to. He describes it as hell. He was much worse in the past. I have told him that if he stays gambling I will have to leave him. Am I crazy to give him a chance. I am very independent and strong minded but I am also highly sensitive and prone to low self esteem.

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macteacher 5 months ago from New York Author

Hi Pkey,

I think it's hard to tell someone what to do without knowing them. I think your boyfriend thinks he can stop on willpower alone, he hasn't so far. He needs support through therapy or a 12 step program like GA. You might want to encourage him to get help in cleaning up his act. As long as you keep your finances separate and maintain solid financial should be ok. As to whether you want to stay with a compulsive gambler...I also suggest that you might want to get some counseling. Good luck!

Blindbride 5 months ago

Where do I begin? Just found out today my fiancé gambled our wedding find away... He only admitted what happened as we are due to pay the church and he used my credit card and I asked him why. (I have now changed my PIN number) Due to get married in July and he has had to cash in shares to pay for it. I'm not sure if I'm marrying the person I thought he was. We have been together 3 years and have a child together. Everything is arranged for the wedding and all should be paid for when his shares are released. Should I over look this as a one off or postpone the wedding till I can trust him again? I'm so heartbroken and disappointed in him

Readytobedone 5 months ago

I have read and reread your article numerous times over the last few months. As we sit now, we have a foreclosure sale date on our home in 2 weeks. My husband just went Friday when I got paid and lost my entire paycheck at the casino. This has been going on for 6 months now. I'm past done, we haven't had a refrigerator for 6 months, because it broke and he lost our entire $8000 tax refund at the casino. Then there's never enough money to get another because it goes to the casino. I get paid weekly, he doesn't work, and by Monday, we're broke. I have to scrape and scrounge just to be able to pay for gas to get to work. I'm going today to open my own account, and I made sure to ask if he would happen to gain access to it if I could file fraud charges...I can. We have been married for 16 years together for 21. We have a 6 year old and an 11 year old. I want desperately to leave, but don't know how. I have no family here and I also feel like I shouldn't have to leave, he should, but he gets very violent when confronted with that. Plus, when he takes my entire am I supposed to? I love him, but I hate him for what he's done to our family. How do you come back from something like this?

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macteacher 5 months ago from New York Author

Blind bride - I cannot tell you what to do...but if it was me I would hold off on marrying him. Gambling away your wedding fund is a huge red flag. Using your credit card without asking or telling you what happened is a disaster in the making. You're preparing to marry someone who lies and can do better. I'm praying for you.

Readytobedone: My heart goes out to you and your children. Find out if there is a domestic violence hotline in your area and call them to see what resources are available. If your husband is bullying you into handing over your paycheck - that's financial abuse. If your employer has direct deposit available - you might want to deposit directly into your checking account. If you are afraid for your safety to set financial boundaries with this man - then you have to get help. You can also look online for a Gam-Anon in your area and start going to meetings so you can make connections and get the help and support you need. Even if your husband never gets better, you and your children deserve so much more out of life. What you describe is no way to live.

My father is still at it and he is in his seventies. He just tried to open new credit card accounts, after my mother finally finished paying off his credit card debt from gambling. She has separate accounts, and he has no access to her money thank goodness.

Please, please, please reach out to the organizations I mentioned and get help. If all else fails, go to your local police department, describe what's happening and see if they can't direct you to some help. I'm sending good energy to you and your kids. Let us know what happens.

Missy 3 months ago

I read your article and it's the exact situation that I'm dealing with. Such a shame this disease is. It is so debilitating to all that are associated with the compulsive gambler. Their tentacles reach out and strangulate everyone associated with them. My poor, submissive daughter is married to the CG. They have kids who are innocent bystanders and I fear, in the long term, they will suffer the effects of their fathers disease. I have given up trying to lend advise to my daughter. She wants it to magically go away. She has not received counseling or has not reached out to a support group.I do what I can to make sure the children have the necessities because he blows through money with no thought. I will not bail him out. I quit enabling him months ago when I found out about his addiction. I have educated myself on this disease and have attended Gam-anon meetings and counseling. Right now, I'm In the process of finding an estate attorney to set up a trust for my daughter and grandchildren. I feel that my duty to her and them are to protect their inheritance from that thief. I will never trust him as long as he's around. He will not gamble my hard earned money away now or never . I no longer have sympathy for him and I realize that he's the only one who can decide to seek help. As I have told him, I will support him 100% if he gets help. His actions not his word will regain some trust from me. However, my feelings are that one can never completely trust an addict. I will always be on guard with him. I just feel so helpless. My daughter and grandkids don't deserve to live like this

Janine 2 months ago

Fantastic article!

I'm just out of an 18 month relationship with a man who, initially, worked in a well-enough paid job yet had no spare cash. He blamed his ex wife for demanding money. Then he cleared all debt onto an interest free card and said he could breathe again.

Then he started selling everything he could find on eBay. Said he needed cash to pay off debt he'd accrued through spending too much on us while also going through a divorce - only the divorce hadn't started and we were doing next to nothing ! So I started questioning what was going on. He said his job was paying less and had historical debt from furnishing his flat over a year before. But that was the debt he'd transferred to the interest free card...... I asked where the eBay money went (around 4 grand) and he said he owed his ex wife money that he'd borrowed. I was so confused. He began hating his job, became reclusive and disinterested in life. He said he was depressed as the marriage break up had psychologically affected him - but he left her and had me.... said he loved me and loved everything we had. Told me not to worry that he was showing no interest, it was a phase that would pass.

Then he admitted to having a gambling App on his phone. Only for one football bet. Righto. This bet would "solve all his problems". The bet lost and he went off the rails. Started drinking heavily, awake all night every night and all over the place. He has aged 10 years in 8 months.

Imo he was gambling the entire time we were together and then it got out of hand.

I ended it and told his 19 year old son why. A son I'd never met because he never allowed it. His son doesn't believe it but I think they need to get their heads out of the sand. The ex wife and son are living in a mortgage-free home with his name on the deeds!

I am now free of the confusion and emotional abuse so many thanks for your blog

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macteacher 2 months ago from New York Author

Hi Janine,

You got off easy, you're very fortunate. You're also very smart for seeing the writing on the wall and asking questions. Without help your ex is going to continue spiraling out of control. Congratulations on freeing yourself! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Truefish 2 months ago

Thanks for your article. My just turned 16-year-old son will not leave his father. I have moved out via a restrain order. To my son, I am the problem. Husband lost our home, has not filed taxes in two years, and just bounced the rent check for the 2nd time. He makes $185 K/year. I had to borrow money to file court case to get my son out of this unhealthy home.

Could you write an article for children from your perspective? My little guy is protecting him, being the parent at the same time getting caught up in the cycle and learning the behaviors.

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macteacher 2 months ago from New York Author

Hi Truefish,

I haven't done much writing lately as I've been busy with my teaching job, but you've given me a good idea for the next article. If you can get your son to Gam-Anon, those meetings can help. He has learned co-dependent behaviors from growing up with a gambler, and without support, he can't unlearn them on his own.

Some individual therapy might help as well. You can also reach out to the guidance staff at his high school - they can provide resources. You're in a tough situation. I'm glad you got out. Thanks for stopping by. I'll start planning that article from the child's perspective.

DilemmaDiana 4 weeks ago

Hi Wendy and hat a wonderfully interesting and informative article you have written ...albeit from painful past experiences.

I too have a past which I would rather forget in some ways. My dad was a lovely man, a glowing personality ,funny,sharp and successful ....until he found the joys of online gambling about 15 yrs ago, everything and I mean everything changed in his and our lives over those yrs. He was self employed but he gave it all up and went on the dole and took a nothing job as a Pizza delivery driver...after employing 12 people in construction he decided it was just too much stress and wanted an easier life ! My mom never worked outside the home so things were tight, anyway he died two yrs ago aged only 59 of a massive stroke...whilst gambling online...can you believe his last minutes were spent betting on sports, he had placed a bet at 8.35 and was found (by my mom) slumped over in his chair dead at 9.15,how sad. I miss him so much but the old Dad the one I remember as a child and early teen, not the lost soul he became.

Now I met this great guy about 5 months back, he took me out bought me some nice gifts was the perfect gentleman in every way, he has been separated for a yr, I am 22 he is 38 so yes there is an age difference but we get on great.

The thing is he told me from the outset that he is a Professional ...not compulsive Sports trader ,he does this fulltime and I have to say he always has money and is extremely generous, he has never been in a Casino and only makes his money on what are known as "Exchanges" At first I wanted to run but he makes me feel so loved and wanted and has never asked me to pay for a thing, he is obviously a different character to my dad but he is still a Gambler (of sorts) I have fallen in love with him and he says eventually he would like us to live together and maybe even get married!

My heart say yes yes yes! My head though has been in a spin, what if (as seems to be the case) he is one of the rare persons who can actually make it pay long term (he has been doing it for 3 yrs professionally now) and I dump him because I lump him in with all other Gamblers? I told him I was uncomfortable with what he does for a living and he just said cannot change because he does not feel he has a problem, it can be so awkward also when we are out with friends and somebody asks him what he does for a living, he is in n o way ashamed or embarrassed by it ...but I see their faces drop and hear the whispers later... I just do not know what the hell to do!

Pregnant and pissed off 10 days ago

Thank you for your insightful article. I have been dealing with the ups and downs and in any other addiction circumstance, easily recognizable abuse for 5 years now. There was a 5 month period where he went to GA he came back to life. He has been back at it a few times recently to the tune of $10,000. That's a train wreck not a relapse in my book. I find myself out of compassion and out of love. I am now 10 weeks pregnant with our 3rd. I am making arrangements to get away from him. I don't have it in me right now to coddle this bullshit behaviour. I have no access to his money, just my allowance. I have no real idea where I'll go but I can't keep shrinking under the shadow of his cycle. I'm kind of terrified. But also exited. I don't need to be sorry for this do I?

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macteacher 7 days ago from New York Author

Hello Pregnant and Pissed off,

If he cannot stay clean, then you are in for a world of trouble if you stay. I am still overcoming battle scars from growing up with my compulsive gambler father. The psychological scars never go away completely. That is the legacy CG's leave to their children.

Scary is what will happen when he squanders all of his money, and then doesn't have any money to give you for an allowance. Scary is when he starts raiding his kid's bank accounts to pay his gambling debts.

Do what you have to do, even if it means public assistance till you get back on your feet. There no shame in getting help to get you and your kids away from a walking disease.

If you want to help your kids pay for things like college, weddings. graduation, etc. you won't have the money if you stay. Save yourself and your kids - get to some GamAnon meetings or CoDa meetings, and don't look back. Good luck!

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macteacher 7 days ago from New York Author

Hi DilemmaDiana,

I am so sorry I did not see your comment sooner, I would have responded. There's no such thing as someone who comes out ahead in gambling. Gambling, by design, is not something someone can make a living off of - because no matter what, it is still a game of chance.

That being said, this man may be doing something illegal. If he's getting tips from someone, or someone is paying behind the scenes to skew the odds...something is going on that he is not telling you. And he's not going to tell you. His ego is caught up in his story about being a "professional" gambler.

So you have to decide what you want. Do you want to risk the cops showing up at your door one day and taking him away? Are you planning on children with someone who's up to no good?

My father claimed for years that he never lost at blackjack, that he was at a professional level, and he always won. He really believed that...until he started cleaning out my mother's assets to chase his losses.

My advice: Find someone with a real, honest, job. Good luck!

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