AO Harm


Gambling difficulties cause harm to relationships with partners or spouses, parents, other family, and friends. Such relationships can help keep you emotionally well. They also help with practical matters and sharing resources, like money or housing. So, when relationships are damaged, this adds to the mental health and financial harm from gambling. The damage is not just to the person who gambled. It is also to families and friends.

Relationship harm comes from the financial strain caused by gambling. It is also because gambling takes time and attention from your relationships. People can end up lying or behaving badly to those close to them. There is a loss of trust, tension, and arguments.

These fractured relationships can take a long time to rebuild. People can experience enduring guilt, loss and loneliness because of the way gambling led them to behave towards those close to them. Relationships may not recover. There may be divorce, separation, estrangement from children, family, or friends. This has long-lasting and serious consequences for people’s material and emotional wellbeing. These can be passed between generations, onto children or parents.

During Gambling

People have said damage to relationships is often connected to financial harm.  The pressure of debt or loss of savings due to gambling causes a financial strain and this puts stress on relationships.

It affected my marriage on some level. I think my marriage was failing anyway, but it certainly was a contributory factor that my gambling was putting pressure on the family finances, there’s no doubt about that. That completed the vicious circle of unhappiness, pressure as I say, I was always – consumed is the word, I was so consumed by the gambling and trying to pay bills and trying to juggle things and knowing on some level that a lot of this was of my own making. I shouldn’t have been under pressure to the extent I was with the salary I was earning. You know, it’s tough raising a young family and I’m sure there would have been financial challenges anyway but looking back my gambling certainly made it more of a challenge and I probably felt in that moment that gambling was a way out of it.


Relationships problems can then add to the financial harm people are experiencing from gambling. When relationships break down, people stop sharing resources and helping each other with practical matters. They may have to leave a shared home. This can result in homelessness or needing social housing.

It got bad. I really wasn’t thinking of others or anything. And yeah, so then back at the start of the year, my girlfriend had enough and kicked me out the house. So, I’ve been back at my Mum’s since and it was at this point I was like right, I’ve got to do something about this now


People have said relationships are damaged by the time and attention gambling takes away from them. This is because they withdraw and spend less time with people close to them. They may miss out on social events because they are gambling. Even when they do spend time with a loved one, they feel distracted by gambling. While they are physically there, they are not emotionally present.

And in terms of relationships, I suppose with the lost time, it would have damaged relationships where I could have done something with somebody or done something socially, but instead I was gambling or I didn’t have the money to do it. Yeah. So There would have been like, so like trips, you know, like weekend breaks with friends or something that I probably could have done, but I didn’t do so, maybe that damaged those sorts of things. Not spending enough time with my partner. Yes. That would have impacted there. And just like, you know, I remember a lot of times like nights out, right, say it was like a work Christmas meal or something, I would leave early to go to the casino. You know, just things like that where I can’t say for sure, but I’d be quite, I’d have a good idea that it would have damaged relationships like that. And obviously, now, you know, to the people, for some people, they can’t trust me in the same way because they know that I led this double life and so in terms of that’s got that relationship stuff.


You’re so consumed by all the betting and what you’re doing, you’re not making time for the person you should be making time for… Even sometimes you’re saying like, “Where’s it going? Is there any affection or there doesn’t seem to be that connection that there was years ago.” Then you think, yes, it probably is mainly down to myself when I look back now, because I am not probably giving her the time she wants and saying nice things to her or being a family person because it’s so – At the time, if we’d been out as a family and both my wife and son have said to me, “What are you doing on your phone again? You’re always on your phone.”

My daughter has never wanted for anything in her life, but I wish that I could have given her so much more. She’s never wanted for anything. She never lacked anything. She never lacked any material goods. She’s never lacked any love or anything like that, in that sense. But the shame that I feel for stuff like that. I remember, obviously, when I split up with my daughter’s mum when my daughter was five. So, you know, certain events for the last sort of 10 or 11 years, she’s nearly 16 now like I say but when she was sort of 6, 7, 8, 9, you know, we used to have like dad and daughter dates. We’d go to the cinema. We’d go bowling and things like that. Just little things that always stand out in my mind. And we would go to see every single Disney film. We’d go to all the Marvel type films and stuff. And I’d be sat there on my phone. You know, my daughter would be having this dad daughter time, but my phone would be turned as dim as it would go. I wouldn’t necessarily be watching the film. I would be betting. I’d be gambling on blackjack or roulette or whatever it was at the time and that, you look back on that. So, I was always present in the physical sense, but I wasn’t there in the way that I should have been.


People describe how gambling changes their behaviour towards people they care about. They may lie about gambling or finances. This leads to a loss of trust that is very damaging to relationships. People have described the frustration that their family members experience during their gambling difficulties, knowing that they are being lied to.

I have lied to her, and I’ve done a whole manner of horrible things, not directly to her, but things like lying and not being truthful in that sense. Now, not gambling, and previous years, you would never have thought I’d be like that, and I would never have thought I’d be like that. Never in a million years would I have dreamt of doing the things or saying the things that I’ve done to my wife that I have done. I’d never in a million years. I take all the blame and responsibility for my actions that I’ve done with gambling, but I would– sat back, looking back at it now, I would think, “Wow, was that you? Was that the same person? It can’t be. It can’t be the same person.”

And I also borrowed money off my dad, which was all written down properly and correctly, and only one of the siblings knew that that existed. Because I was already beginning to feel quite ashamed by the fact that I’d let this debt build up, not, you know, the gambling didn’t seem to be, I didn’t admit what it was. And I actually did make up a fib to my brother, who was the sibling involved. And I said I’d got involved with a man who had basically stolen from me. Because I was too ashamed to say that I was gambling.

We had this conversation around money, and he said, “Me and your sister would only ever give you money that we knew wouldn’t affect us as a family.” He said, “Because we knew you would probably give us it back at some point but never the time that you said you was going to give us it back.” He said that “It was just frustrating because we didn’t want to talk to you about it because we knew you would lie to us.” This is how we’re conversating. He said, “There was no point in trying to say, ‘Ian, have you got a gambling addiction,’ because you would have lied to us because your lies sometimes were laughable, but you actually believed them all.”
Just conversations that I’ve had with my family, and obviously, learning about the addiction when I was in Gordon Moody, and then coming out, and then listening to stories that we talk about quite regularly when we’re all together. I would say my friends always knew probably I had an addiction, but they accepted me for what I was, but my family, there was a lot of frustration there with my family because they knew I’d got an addiction. They knew I didn’t want to deal with it. They knew all I wanted to ever do was try and win that big pot.


Some people describe harming their relationship by creating arguments with their partner or spouse intentionally, so they can use that as a reason to go and gamble.

I always feel as if I was escaping from something that was in me that was… gambling was giving me escapism from reality to try and deal with everyday life type of thing. And yeah, arguments with my wife type of thing. That was my excuse to go and gamble again, have a blazing argument, storm out the house, go gamble. I would find an excuse to… or we’d try and plan something or she’d want to do something, and I’d get into an argument with her just so I can go and have my gambling time

Whatever I was going through, whether it was a good time or a bad time I would gamble. I would create scenarios to gamble. So, with my ex and things I would turn around and say, he’d come in from work “why are you in a mood?”, “Oh I am not in a mood”, “Oh Ok”, then I would generate an argument from that “well I’m going out, I need some air”. And then I’d go off and gamble. But that was something sitting inside of me. It’s like that itch, that urge where you keep scratching and it’s not going away until you’re actually doing it. So, I would create situations. When I used to work in the care homes we used to have to cover on-call. And there would be periods of time where I would pretend the on-call had gone off, it was a big incident and I’d sit in the casino for three or four nights and not actually go home because then I had to, didn’t have to make things up. I’d already done the big thing. I wasn’t going to be expected to go home. And that to me is the drive where gambling takes you. There’s no limits to what you will do to gamble, and it is very, very, very addictive.


Relationship harm can come about through the person being rejected because of their gambling difficulties. This could be because other people do not understand or may hold stereotypes.

I had a very good friend who I used to see a lot and it was a 30th birthday party and I couldn’t go because it was down in Bristol and I’d lost all my money that week, as I used to do all the time. I was planning on going down and I couldn’t make it because I had no money and it’s so shameful. You feel so shameful. I just didn’t know what to say, so I just didn’t say anything. And she got really upset that I didn’t go. So, I came clean, and I think it was the first person I properly told. I said “look, I’m having this major problem. I lost like two grand in the last week, and I just had nothing to come to your party. I wanted to, trust me”. Thinking, it felt like a bit of a release at first. Like I’ve told someone thinking, oh, you know, it might be the start, something that helps. And they basically deleted me off Facebook and haven’t spoken to me since in ten years. So, it really put me off talking to people about it because people just don’t understand.


Well, we run the business together because it’s a family business. I still had to work for them and like things will work they got a bit arsey about and it was like, Oh, everything that’s gone wrong was because of your gambling because your mind’s not been on it and you’ve been distracted and this and that. It got to the point where I thought, “Do you know what? I don’t care. Whatever you want to say, I’m not listening anymore. You can use that as an excuse for everything it’s not my problem.”


The damage to relationships often remains after the gambling has stopped. The destruction of relationships has significant consequences that continue to cause ongoing harm. Relationship conflicts or breakdown undermine the emotional and material welfare of the person and those close to them.

The loss of trust is often hard to overcome.

I mean, I wanted to tell her, I really wanted to tell her. But I didn’t think she’d understand. I mean, we’ve had people on our panel, you know, affected others. And I can only imagine what it’s like for them because to not know what’s going on, the deceit of it, and the amount. I mean, when she found out, like I said, I was panicking. Even when I showed her the online account, I was trying to cover up things even at that point. And then when she started to understand she went “no it’s not, that’s not for that, what’s that amount. What’s this W whatever it was?”, and it was William Hill. “What’s that coming out of my account?” It was a joint account. It was just dreadful because as soon as I told her and the fact that she’d found out and I hadn’t told her, I just felt like I’d lost all the trust then. I felt like it was the end of my marriage, to be honest. My kids were quite young at the time, my daughter would have been four, my lad was nine and the thought of having to live in a flat without them really sent me downhill. I was downhill anyway but it really kind of made me feel like, Oh my God. So, I felt like I’d lost everything and trying to build that trust back because even when we got back together, you know, things would come on. I remember one night falling asleep on the sofa and there was a roulette thing on at 2:00 in the morning on ITV or whatever. That had just naturally come on while I was asleep. My wife came down and said, “what are you doing watching that?” So, the trust wasn’t there. Even you know, even and basically, I cut all my cards up. We shut the joint account and she had access to the account only. All of that was going on and at the same time it’s dreadful because there’s no trust there so trying to build that back is a long process, you know.


My wife, I mean, she’s been incredible, incredibly supportive. But that thought in the back of my mind of every time I go to a different room or if I’m upstairs and she’s not with me and every time I go out. Is he having a bet? Is he? Is he gambling again? Trying to pick up on those signs. I just feel like I constantly have to reassure her that I’m not and constantly have to do things to kind of reinforce that I’m not. So, yeah, I think that side of it is, is the sort of aftermath of it all. Although you can look back and you kind of have this story, it’s kinda the aftermath of picking up the pieces around it is the sort of difficult part.

Relationship harms have often been described in terms of the lost time with loved ones. People can never get this back. People describe ongoing feelings of guilt, loss and loneliness because of the way they have behaved towards people their cared.

The biggest effect it’s had on me is the relationship I’ve got with my kids and my wife really. I know I could have been a better Dad. I know I could have given my kids more than I did, security, trust. All these things that I did. That for me is the biggest resentment I have for myself. You know, like homes, jobs, savings, money, financial security. Yeah, it’s devastating as well in itself, but they can be recovered. So can the relationships I know with my kids and my wife but there’s things that I missed out on. I missed out on you know, seeing my daughter crawl for the first time, first words, birthday parties, christenings. Being there, you know when my son probably needed me. There’s only so much a parent can do, but yeah, I’d say that’s like that’s the one that kills me more than others.


Some of it you’ll never get over, if I’m honest, you know. It’s not so much the money, it’s some of the things you did to get money. That’s the difficult thing to live with. And, of course, the time. You know, I would do anything to get out of things so that I could just sit and gamble. I remember when I told my daughters and my oldest daughter just said “Dad, thank God there’s a reason for the way you’ve been like you are because we thought that you just didn’t like us anymore”. So that’s hard to take, knowing that nobody really mattered because all that mattered was gambling.

For many, their gambling results in their partner, spouse or parent having to take on the burden of managing the finances. They may also have to try and sort out debt or housing. This additional pressure is exhausting for the other person and contributes to relationship tension. The gambling can also cause conflicts between other people. There can be disagreements over what should be done about the person’s gambling. Only selected family or friends tend to be told about the person’s gambling difficulties and they have to keep this secret.

My dad’s already made it clear and said, “You know this is the last time. You know we can’t help you out again.” Again, I’ve got to keep that in my head as though I know, I can’t. I don’t want my marriage to end because of what I’ve done. This is where it’s sad and upsetting because you think, “Through no fault of my wife’s, I’ve put her in this position.” She’s the innocent one in this. My son’s innocent, my family are all innocent, and yet I’m the one who’s putting the worry and stress and strain on them from no fault of their own.

For her, there is lots of issues around finance. I wasn’t in control of that because I wasn’t working, but she had to juggle the books. She had to speak to people we owed money to because I’d fraudulently taken money out of her account as well as my own, and this, that and the other, or emptied bank accounts or not paid bills and done the same sorts of things, all the deception, all the lies, all those things. So, I’d done all that. So, she needed support. She, you know, people prayed for her, prayed for us as a couple. And generally held her up, I suppose. She’s probably thinking “oh no, not again” or “why is this happening to me?” All those sorts of questions and just the pressure of debt, the pressure of phone calls, having to deal with banks. Having to deal with CAB – Citizens Advice Bureau, the credit card companies, the council, council tax, all those sorts of things. They were all in serious freefall. So, lots of people supporting her or close people supporting her. And as I say, there was some people that said get rid of him. But she never felt that at that time.

Nick #2

Gambling can result in arguments and disagreements. Relationships may end or became estranged. Some people separate or divorce. Some no longer have a relationship with their parents and are cut out of their parent’s will.

But it was like, “We’re moving here we don’t want to be around you; you need to sort out yourself.” I was like, “Fair enough.” Then they were like, “Oh, and we’ve changed the will because if anything happens to us, you won’t be able to manage.” I was like, “That was really unnecessary. Even if you had done that, keep it to yourself. I don’t need to know.” It was just, “How many times can you kick me when I’m down?”

Relationship harms can have impacts that are passed from one generation to another. Some people described the long-term impact that gambling had on their relationship with their children or their parents.

Other impacts I would say, is probably a relationship with my two oldest children as well. They live 70 miles away, but I wouldn’t say we are as close as we should be as father and son. There’s massive implications in life through gambling. It’s like I said before, everybody’s’ is different. Around it all, you’ve got to remember it affects up to 6 to 10 other people, just one person gambling and then with that within like I specified before and I didn’t actually say this before but within an alcoholic, or with a drug addict, you’re taking yourself down with gambling. It’s like a spider’s web. We’re in the middle and then other people are coming out and it’s this tangent of actually realizing the different people all around from a loved one to a grandparent to a sibling, detrimental effect and for the long-term.


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