Problem gambling and the workplace – keep an eye out for a mate

Keep an eye out at work for a mate

This week, 26-31 May, is Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, and this year Gambling Help services are working with local businesses across NSW to promote the free range of support services available, and to encourage people to keep an eye out at work for their workmates.

There can be many psychological, social and financial consequences for individuals who are suffering from gambling-related harm, however gambling is often shrouded in secrecy and shame, so how do you know if a colleague or employee is struggling with gambling and what is the best way to approach them?

If you notice that an employee or workmate is experiencing any of the following warning signs, it may be a sign that they are suffering from gambling-related harm:

  • Frequent lateness
  • Unexplained absences
  • Frequently leaving work early
  • Long, unexplained lunches
  • Frequent use of phone or computer for gambling related activities
  • Borrowing money from co-workers
  • Bills arriving to work rather than home
  • Contact from family members about salary
  • Misuse, or unexplained/excessive use, of company finances
  • Decline in grooming habits and self-care
  • Symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Decrease in efficiency and productivity
  • Decline in standard of work
  • May appear preoccupied
  • Inability to concentrate

It’s important to remember that while these signs can indicate gambling problems, they may also be a sign of other problems such as depression or other problems at home, so to work out exactly what is happening you need to have a conversation with the person you are concerned about.

It can be difficult to know how to raise problem gambling with somebody, but if you feel that an employee or workmate is struggling with their gambling, the following tips may help to broach the conversation:

  • Approach the person in a private and confidential environment
  • Discuss what you have observed in a clear and non-judgemental manner
  • Use specific, work-related examples
  • Explain how the problem is affecting their work
  • Respect personal boundaries and don’t pry unnecessarily
  • Explain that you may be wrong, but you genuinely care for them
  • Do not ‘diagnose’ them
  • Provide information about seeking help – have the number for Gambling Help ready – but ultimately leave it up to them

Many people know of someone who gambles to excess – a workmate, a friend, a friend of a friend, a partner, family member, or employee. If you would like more information on how to help somebody who may have gambling problems, you can contact Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or visit

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