Effects Of Gambling On Marriage

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On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Divorce on Thursday, July 31, 2014

This spring, the Missouri legislature passed a bill to allow casinos to run lines of credit for individuals – a minimum of $10,000 and no maximum. Governor Nixon did not sign the legislation, but he did not veto it, so it became law and goes into effect August 28.

While the law may have the effect of increasing casino business, it will also have the rather obvious effect of putting more gamblers into debt.

Previously, Missouri had strict limits on what a person could bet and lose in a given time period. Now, both of those restrictions have disappeared so that a person with sufficient income (or even credit cards) could ask a casino to float a “marker” of a significant amount – and lose it all in one night.

  • The effects of a spouse’s addiction can reach far beyond the one who has the addiction. Gambling addictions can, and most often do, negatively impact marriage.
  • Pathological gambling (PG) is widely reported to have negative consequences on marriages, families, and children. Empirical evidence is only now accumulating but when put together with anecdotal information, the extent of these problems is clear.

Gambling exists in every state (even in Utah and Hawaii where it is illegal), but not everyone gambles the same. If gambling gets out of control, it becomes a real medical condition. A “Gambling Disorder”, as the affliction is known, affects slightly more than 2 percent of all U.S. Compulsive gambling may have destructive and long-lasting financial effects. Moreover, the harm caused to. Marriage and family relationships from a gambling problem can be as stressful and serious as the financial consequences. This brief FAQ answers some common questions about gambling and its impact on marriages, using findings.

How could this impact a divorce? In Missouri, debts incurred during a marriage, just like property acquired during a marriage, are presumed the joint responsibility of the parties. So, if one spouse decides to go to the casino and open a line of credit for $25,000 only to lose all of it at the poker table, that spouse has incurred a marital debt that could put the other spouse on the hook for half.

Effects of gambling on society

Historically, courts in Missouri have considered gambling debts accrued during the marriage in different ways depending upon the knowledge of the other spouse. If the other spouse could establish that he or she had no knowledge of the gambling and/or the debt, the court would see that as a form of either marital misconduct or dissipation of marital assets. In such a case, the court could decide to place all of the responsibility for the debt on the gambling spouse and even order that gambling spouse to reimburse the unaware spouse of her half of the marital assets lost to repay the gambling debt. For example, if the gambling spouse took out a loan against a 401(k) without telling the other spouse, half of those funds – plus any taxes or penalties incurred, and interest income lost – would be awarded to the unaware spouse.

If the non-gambling spouse is aware of the gambling and the debt, the non-gambling spouse may have a harder time recovering the lost assets. The court will look to whether the non-gambling spouse acceded to the gambling or tried to protest but found no way to “cut off” the gambling spouse because of the joint ownership of assets.

Once a spouse files for divorce, that spouse has a remedy to protect the marital estate against further depletion of gambling debt by seeking an order of the court prohibiting encumbering or dissipating any asset without the consent of both parties. Such a mutual restraining order will assure the non-gambling spouse that any misconduct during the pendency of the divorce will be deducted from the property of the gambling spouse.

Causes And Effects Of Gambling

Effects Of Gambling On Marriage

Because gambling could be considered a form of marital misconduct, the court could use problem gambling as a basis for an unequal distribution of the marital estate.

One can debate the pros and cons of gambling as social or economic policy, but with regard to divorce, it can create serious financial problems. If you have questions about gambling and divorce, contact us – we can help.

What do you do if you are married to someone who is caught up into gambling? He or she might even be going down the downhill slope of gambling away your marriage, family relationship, your home and everything you own and treasure.

What if YOU are the gambler who is caught up in this type of behavior?

These are issues we’d like to address in this article that we pray can help you in some way.

When Gambling is Destroying Marriages

We know this is a tall order and that we can only scratch the surface of the subject. But because of the seriousness of this problem, we know it’s important to do what we can to help those who are overwhelmed by it all.

We don’t want to approach this subject as if we are the experts here at Marriage Missions advising you. That is because frankly, we have very little experience in this area of marriage. We do, however, personally know of several couples that have/are dealing with this issue. But that is more of a distant view, rather than an up close and personal one. So we will facilitate within this article, the opportunity for others who are more experienced to share what they have learned.


Lets look at gambling in general to give you information you might find helpful. We’d then like to address the person who is married to the gambler (and other family members and friends). And then we’ll address the gambler, as well.

One of the “truths” concerning gambling that we didn’t know was brought up in an article titled, “Gambling’s Impact on Families.” It is put together by Ronald A. Reno. He wrote:

“A University of Nebraska Medical Center study concluded that problem gambling is as much a risk factor for domestic violence as alcohol abuse. Domestic violence murders in at least 11 states have been traced to gambling problems since 1996.”

Another article written by Ronald Reno (and posted on the Beliefnet.com web site) brings out the scriptural reasons why gambling isn’t something we should indulge in. He brings out the point:

“Jesus commanded, Love your neighbor as yourself(Mark 12:31). Gambling, meanwhile, is predicated on the losses, pain, and suffering of others. For one to win at gambling, others must lose. For many, the ramifications attributable to their gambling losses are profound. Families touched by a gambling addiction are at greatly increased risk for such negative outcomes as divorce, bankruptcy, child abuse, domestic violence, crime, and suicide.”

Besides that point, the article brings out others as well, with scriptures to support them. To find out more, please click onto the link below to read:


What Can You Do?

After you recognize that there is a gambling problem going on within your family and that gambling can grow in its negative impact, what can the family do about it? Marriageuncensored.com had an interesting article posted on their web site that brings out the important point:

“There’s the failure of the non-addicted spouse and other family members to respond appropriately and helpfully to the situation. Now, don’t get me wrong on this. I understand that the person with the addiction is the one who must ultimately take responsibility and make the changes to get healthy. If you are the supportive spouse, I am not suggesting that you are responsible for the addiction or the havoc it’s wreaking in your home.

“I am suggesting, however, that the way in which you respond can either create an environment that will help your spouse beat their addiction, or it can contribute to and compound the problem. As the partner who is one step removed from the addiction, you will have a huge impact on how this will turn out —for better or worse.

“The tendency of many in this situation is to tiptoe around the addict and their habit. But while letting sleeping dogs lie may get you through the day, it will not bring about the results you desire long-term.”

Gamblers and the Denial Factor

In a web site article, “Tiptoeing Around Addictions” Dr. Dave Currie, with Glen Hoos, made the point that “DENIAL” is one of the “unhealthy ways that “people respond to their spouse’s addiction.” They make the point that the addict tries to deny that there is a problem. But:

“Their spouse, family and friends often get hooked into it as well. The spouse in particular may deny the extent of the problem. They may try to convince themselves that their marriage is strong enough to bear up under this pressure, and that the issue is better left alone.

“You’ve got to be willing to let go of the security of that fantasy, and face reality. The first (and often hardest) step is admitting you have a problem. The issue is there whether you admit it or not; accepting the truth puts you on the road to recovery. If you deny the depth of the problem, your spouse will have no compelling reason to face it either. If this is the case your situation is never going to improve.”

Enablement Concerning Gamblers

And then there is, “ENABLEMENT,” which is “denial taken a step further.” As Dave Currie and Glen Hoos write:

Effects of gambling addiction

“It’s covering for the addict, protecting them from the natural consequences of their actions. Some examples:

• “The boss calls and asks the woman why her husband isn’t at work today. ‘He’s in bed, sick,’ she answers… neglecting to mention that the sickness is due to a killer hangover incurred the night before.

• “The wife’s gambling addiction has strained the family finances to the point where the bills can no longer be paid. Instead of facing the real issue, the husband arranges to skip a mortgage payment and opens yet another line of credit.”

Facing the Truth

It’s tempting to do this because it seems easier to do this than to face the truth. However, as it’s pointed out:

“What you’re doing when you cover for the person is removing their motivation to change. Maybe he needs to get fired to wake him up. Maybe she needs to go to the store and have her credit card rejected when she’s trying to buy groceries to realize there’s a problem here.”

“Instead of enabling, you’ve got to intervene. Whether that’s a one-on-one confrontation or some kind of a group intervention depends on what you’re facing. But you need to come to the point where you sit down and say, ‘Okay, we have a problem here. What are we going to do about it?'”


Another way that a spouse and family may tiptoe around addiction is that they turn to “ABANDONMENT” as a way to cope.

“They cover for the addict one too many times and have come to the point where they say, ‘You know what? You got yourself into this mess… now get yourself out of it!’ They wash their hands of the situation and leave their spouse to deal with the problem alone.

“It’s understandable that some people get to this point. After all, it’s their spouse who chose this road, and paying for their bad behavior gets old very fast. Nevertheless, if you’re in this position you’ve got to ask yourself how you want this to play out? Do you really want your spouse to get cleaned up and get your marriage back on track? Because if that’s what you want, you’re not going to get it by leaving your husband or wife to fend for themselves. They’re going to need your support and encouragement every step of the way.

Suppress the Urge to Blame

“Somehow, you’ve got to suppress the urge to cast blame and point fingers. Instead of putting the problem between you, you’ve got to stand side-to-side with the problem in front of you and say, ‘We have a problem. It happens to be your addiction, but it’s our problem, and we’re going to solve it together.’ What a world of difference from the, ‘It’s your problem… deal with it!’ approach.

“This is undeniably tough, especially if your spouse is not showing a willingness to do the hard work of recovery. However, don’t mistake support for softness. Supporting your spouse may mean confronting them, refusing to cover for them, and perhaps even separating for a period of time while they work through it. But it’s got to be done in a context of love and encouragement, and an attitude that says, ‘We will do whatever it takes to get you healthy and to put our marriage back on solid ground.'”

Now, it’s true that you may have been there and done that. But it’s important not to keep allowing this addiction to keep going on in your home. That is because it will continue to erode your marital relationship until eventually your marriage will be totally destroyed. There is no doubt that help is needed —desperately!

Flying Solo

“FLYING SOLO” is another temptation facing you in all of this. Dave and Glen write further:

“As in many other areas of life, pride can be crippling when it comes to dealing with addiction. Pride causes you to say, ‘We don’t need help. We can handle this on our own.’

Gambling Effects On Family

“Most addicts require outside help to fully conquer their habits —and fortunately, help is widely available. Whether it’s Gamblers Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous —name the addiction, and there is likely a group to help people through it. And if there aren’t any groups for it, there are counselors, pastors, friends to walk alongside you. And there are helpful resources available that can really make a difference.

“You’d be wise if you reached out for help at this time, and not just for the one with the addiction. There are also support groups for spouses, friends and family of addicts. Talking with others that are on a similar journey can bring you strength in difficult times.”

Addiction Info

So, in our search for help for those who are being impacted by the negative effects of gambling upon their lives, we found the following to be something that you may want to use. The authors wrote:

“Because of the involvement of a family member, our hearts have been drawn to the Christian Recovery of Compulsive Gambling and Gambling Addiction. After doing considerable research on the internet on compulsive gambling and participating in the Recovery Process (Gambler’s Anonymous) with a loved one in a Support Group (Gamanon), we would like to share what we have found with all who visit this web site.”

To take advantage of what they offer, whether you are a family member, friend or someone who is dealing with your own gambling issues, please click onto the following web site link:

IS GAMBLING A PROBLEM? Gambling Addiction Information

Something that would be good for the gambler to consider is written by Gregory L. Jantz. Please read:


Older Gamblers

And if you think that it’s only those who are younger that are having problems in this area of life, think again. The ministry of Focus on the Family put together a great series of articles. They are aimed to help those who are living out the years of “Midlife and Beyond.” They are betting their life savings away hoping to obtain more to live on in their growing years. To read the first of the series and then continue on to the other articles they offer on this subject, please read:

Social Effects Of Gambling


We hope you have found this article to be helpful. We encourage you to “Join the Discussion” below if you have further help for those who need it.

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

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