Gambling Harm and Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We want to bring awareness to the close connection of intimate partner violence and gambling harm. Let’s look at the connection between the two, and what help is available for both. 

Immediate Help 

First and foremost, if you believe you are in imminent danger and need immediate help for yourself and/or your children from your partner, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-3224. Learn what choices you have and how to keep yourself and your family safe. 

If you believe gambling is causing problems within your home, please reach out to the New York State Problem Gambling Resource Center at 1-833-HERETOHELP. A trained staff member can help you learn what choices, resources and support services are available for you and your loved ones struggling with, or affected by, gambling harm. To understand the effects of gambling harm, we must first define the problem. 

Defining The Problem 

To identify a problem, we must first define the terms that identify a problem to be on the same page for further discussion.  

Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner, which may include physical violence; sexual, psychological, social, or financial abuse; harassment; and stalking. Many times, domestic violence is connected to other risky, dangerous and/or potentially addictive behaviors, which includes gambling. 

Gambling is defined as risking something of value on the chance to win something better. Gambling always involves chance. We define problem gambling as any time gambling causes harm or problems in someone’s life, i.e. gambling harm. Gambling harm can include financial difficulties, impact on your work or school, effects on your physical and mental health, and strain on your relationships that could potentially lead to incidents of domestic violence.  

How These Issues Are Connected 

Gambling harm and domestic violence are connected, which has been shown in recent studies. Some researched connections of gambling harm and intimate partner violence include: 

  • Intimate partner violence can occur due to stressors brought about by gambling behavior.  
  • Gambling harm often increases in severity before the onset domestic violence.  
  • New studies show gambling harm as a risk factor for domestic violence.  
  • One-third of problem gamblers report being the victim or perpetrator of physical intimate partner violence.  

Warning Signs 

If we were to focus on reducing the risks of gambling harm as a way to reduce the risk of domestic violence, we need to know what to look for. Here is a list of warning signs of someone who may be experiencing problems due to their gambling. 

  • Irritability, restlessness, withdrawal, 
  • Constant thoughts of gambling,  
  • Borrowing money,   
  • Delayed payment of bills, 
  • Neglecting household duties, 
  • Alienation from family and friends,   
  • Disappearing for long periods of time,  
  • Decline in health or hygiene,
  • Inability to cut back/stop gambling, 
  • Extreme guilt or shame, and  
  • Suicidal thoughts. 

After reviewing these warning signs of a potential gambling problem, you may want to get support for yourself or someone you care about. It’s important to know that you are not alone, there is help to learn more and, if needed, support services. These services can help any and all individuals suffering from gambling harm.  

Taking Action 

There are many resources available to support those in need. There may be hope for a renewed healthy partnership free from gambling harm and domestic violence. The first step is to identify whether or not there is a gambling problem. 

How do I know if I have a gambling problem? 

Our anonymous e-Screener can help a person identify whether or not they have a gambling problem. After using the e-Screener, the user will be offered an identified level of potential gambling harm. Accompanying the identified gambling severity are resources and support that could reduce the individuals gambling harm and improve their life. 

For those seeking help, there are many resources and support services available. Whether it is the individual struggling with gambling harm, or loved ones who are affected, there is help and hope. If you are unsure about the level of gambling harm, please reach out to the NYS Problem Gambling Resource Centers. 

NYS Problem Gambling Resource Centers  

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-3224  

Additional Resources: 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

National Network to End Domestic Violence 

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence