Domestic Violence Awareness Month


Please visit the National Coalition on Domestic Violence for more information

From the 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission Final Report

Family strife created by gambling problems also appears in the form of abuse, domestic violence or neglect. In Biloxi, Mississippi, a witness testified before the Commission how her husband’s gambling problem affected their relationship: “I lived in fear daily due to his agitation and outbursts of violence broken doors, overturned furniture, broken lamps, walls with holes in them. I haven’t the words to describe the hell that my life became on a daily basis.”

NRC cites two studies showing that between one quarter and one half of spouses of compulsive gamblers have been abused.

In its case studies of 10 casino communities surveyed in NORC’s case studies reported an increase in domestic violence relative to the advent of casinos. One domestic violence counselor from Harrison County, Mississippi, testified that a shelter there reported a 300  percent increase in the number of requests for domestic abuse intervention after the arrival of casinos. A substantial portion of the women seeking refuge reported that gambling contributed to the abuse.

Other casino communities report similar experiences. Rhode Island Attorney General
Jeffrey Pine reported a “significant increase” in domestic assaults in the community of Westerly, R.I. after the opening of the Foxwoods casino 20 minutes away. Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. has likewise reported a linkage between expanded gambling and increases in domestic violence in numerous

From the RICPG website:

How does problem gambling affect families?

One of the hardest things for the loved one of a problem gambler to understand is why he or she cannot just stop gambling. So many arguments, so many broken promises.  Many problem gamblers suffer from mixed feelings – they know they are causing problems for their families, they are destroying not only their own lives, but the lives around them. They may become depressed, anxious and at times sucidial.  But the urge to gamble is too great to resist.  It is too hard to give up on the possibility of winning back what they have lost, and the chance to solve all their problems.

Most problem gamblers ignore the security of their families, and the harm they are causing to their partners, their children, or their parents.  Slowly, over time, they lose control over how much time and money has been lost.   No matter how many times they promise to quit, they can’t.   They start to gamble in secret so their loved ones do not find out they continue to gamble.  This creates deeper emotions of shame and guilt, and brings them further into debt. They keep hoping just one big win will solve all their problems.


Financial problems

  • This is the most common problem for the problem gambler’s family.  Savings accounts are gone, credit cards are maxed out, homes are foreclosed on, college funds are no longer available.  When the family finds out the extent of their financial problems it makes them feel scared, angry and betrayed.  How can this be happening to them?

Emotional problems and isolation

  • Family members spend so much time trying to hide the extent of how the problem gambling addiction has affected their lives from their own family and friends.  They may feel ashamed, angry, confused.  At times the family members think it is their fault the problem gambler cannot stop.   This causes depression, anxiety, and isolation.  The emotional and physical closeness with the problem gambler becomes harder to maintain.  There is to much hurt, and it gets harder to love and support that person.  Also, relationships with their own family, or friendships, may become lost because of monies loaned and unpaid.

Physical and mental health and burnout

  • The stress of problem gambling for both the person who gambles and the family can include anxiety, depression, poor sleep, and stress-related health issues.  It is difficult as one family member tries to keep things in control while everything around them is falling apart.  They put so much focus on the problem gambler that they forget to take care of themselves, and this can lead to burnout.

Physical and Emotional Abuse

  • Gambling problems can lead to physical and emotional abuse of those close to the gambler.   Domestic violence is more common when families are in crisis.  Children may suffer from pent-up anger, abandonment, and neglect.

 Suicide Risk

  • Suicide rates among gambling addicts is twice the rate of other addictions.  The National Council on Problem Gambling has estimated that one in five problem gamblers attempt to kill themselves. The people most likely to attempt suicide are those who also have an untreated or unresolved mental health problem (such as depression) or who use alcohol or other drugs.