Help with gambling problems – for gamblers and family members

Gambling problems can be overcome.

There are effective counselling and treatment services that enable gamblers to return to a life in which gambling is no longer the be-all and end-all. The counselling centres answer questions about the risk of addiction and about individual therapy options. They also give pointers to support groups and other advisory services (e.g. debt counselling).

All these services are free. And what is more: the counselling can be done anonymously if you so choose, and has no impact on your residence permit or Schufa [German credit-rating agency] information. Every counsellor is under a legal obligation to maintain confidentiality and is not allowed to pass on information about you without your permission.

As family members, partners, friends and acquaintances of gambling addicts are usually also affected by their addiction, the counselling centres likewise offer them help and support. And support groups offer group talks not just for gamblers but also specifically for family members of gambling addicts.

Most of the assistance listed is provided in German. Some counselling centres also offer chats in English. Otherwise in some cases there is the possibility of an interpreter service for the counselling. In this case the best thing is for a person of trust to make the initial contact with the counselling centre and find out on the spot about the options available.

Besides the personal counselling services you can also take advantage of free and anonymous telephone or online counselling services. You can find the telephone numbers and contacts here on the right side of the homepage.

There is also an online programme specifically for family members of gambling addicts called “Entlastung für Angehörige (EfA)”.

For parents of children at risk of gambling we offer an English-language Information Brochure (preview).

We have compiled some initial tips for you on how to cope with gambling problems:

If you yourself gamble:

  • Discuss your situation with a person you trust (family member/friend/work colleague).

  • Seek assistance as soon as possible from a counselling centre or a support group.

  • Keep as little money as possible on you and give a person you trust your EC card.

  • Set up direct debits for your regular outgoings (rent, telephone, etc.) to be debited from your account immediately after your salary is credited to it.

  • Find a hobby you enjoy.

  • Avoid all forms of gambling.

  • Check if you can be barred from your favourite form of gambling.

If you are a relative of a gambling addict:

  • Speak about your concerns to a person you trust. A problem shared is a problem halved!

  • Keep in contact with your relatives and friends, and do things that do you good.

  • Speak to your gambling family members candidly and unemotionally about your viewpoint and your concerns. In doing so, never threaten any consequences you cannot or do not intend to carry out later (e.g. a separation/divorce).

  • Never lend your gambling family member any money or take on their debts. Also, never lie for him/her or take on tasks he/she actually has to accomplish. Should this ever be absolutely necessary, however, come to agreements that are as concrete and time-limited as possible.

  • Secure your own livelihood (e.g. your own bank account, your own housekeeping money).

  • Seek the help of a counselling centre or support group.

The Landesstelle für Glücksspielsucht is not responsible for third-party content.