Be Mindful When Shopping for a Problem Gambler This Holiday Season

Trying to pick out the perfect presents for all of your loved ones during the holiday season can be difficult, time-consuming, and stressful. In that event, there are a handful of go-to choices that buyers opt for. However, if you’re shopping for someone who might be living with a gambling problem, there are certain gifts you should try to stay away from. Even though you are buying them for the right reasons, they come with the potential for trouble.

Gifts to Be Mindful of

When giving gifts, remember to avoid things that promote, simulate, or encourage gambling behaviors. Games with “loot boxes” or large in-app purchases should be avoided, as should gifts for children with hidden features or operations that introduce them to the concept of risking money. Here are a few more of those gifts to watch out for that you normally wouldn’t think twice about:

  • Lottery Tickets – Even though they are typically bought and given innocently, lottery tickets have the makings of danger, depending on the recipient and whether the ticket is a winner or a loser. Winning might motivate players to purchase even more tickets and waste money chasing that high feeling of winning. Losing, on the other hand, can result in the person purchasing more tickets until they eventually choose a winning one — also known as “chasing losses.”
  • Money – Whether it’s in the form of cash, check, or prepaid credit cards, money is a very popular holiday gift. It can be much easier than figuring out what to buy, as recipients can spend the money however they like. However, a loved one with a gambling disorder may not spend the money in a healthy way, opting to head to the casino for gambling in Atlantic City, for example. In this case, a monetary gift may be a form of enabling a loved one’s disorder.
  • Gift Cards – This one is a little more obvious, but it probably isn’t a wise choice to buy a problem gambler a gift card that will lead them to a location where gambling takes place. If you know your loved one has a problem with or is making an effort to avoid skill-based gambling in your region, steer clear of purchasing gift cards for hotels, restaurants, and spas near well-known gambling spots.

Alternative Gift Options

Fortunately, there are almost unlimited options when it comes to giving gifts and showing your loved one you care. Focus on getting gifts with meaning that doesn’t provide a way for problem gambling behaviors to continue. Here are some safe and responsible gifts to award a problem gambler.

Children’s Gifts

Problem gambling often occurs with good intentions in the heart. Whether it’s to put a giant meal on the table for family or reward friends with amazing gifts, sometimes people go to the casino thinking they’re going to win it big. Gifts like children’s toys are great options because they can put a smile on children’s faces and remove an excuse a problem gambler might find to head to the slots. Consider a few of these other options for kids:

  • Puzzles
  • Picture Books
  • Journals and Utensils
  • Lotion
  • Reusable Bottles
  • Socks or Other Clothing Items

Social Events With Friends

Problem gamblers often go through a period of emotional withdrawal from family and friends. From extreme mood swings to difficulty paying attention, problem gambling can strain certain relationships. Gifting social events can help those recovering individuals to start restoring friendships and engage more with family members they might be neglecting.

Wellness Kits

Gambling problems often impact one’s mental health, putting stress on them each day and making it harder to perform daily tasks. Wellness kits are a great invention, combining various essentials that promote a positive mind and body. Explore kits with positive motivation cards, beautiful-smelling candies, digital wellness sessions, and even massages!


Just knowing you have a problem can go a long way, and streamlining the process for problem gamblers can make it more likely they engage in positive behaviors or speak to someone for help. Provide knowledge of gambling meetings or promote journaling and ways for individuals to express their feelings about gambling. Remember, you cannot force someone to get help if they don’t want it. Be open and understanding with the problem gambler, but gift them the understanding that local gambling recovery sites exist all around. 

The Holidays Don’t Have to Be a Time of Despair — Find Help for Your Gambling Problems Today

The holidays are a time of happiness and fulfillment; no one you know should be excluded from that. People with gambling problems may require a bit of an adjustment with the way you give gifts, but it won’t take much to think twice about what you’re gifting. Avoiding lottery tickets or cash gifts, and focusing on more meaningful, positive rewards ensures that problem gamblers enjoy the holidays while taking more steps toward a strong recovery.

If you need help with a gambling problem or know someone who does, call us at any time of the day at 1-800-GAMBLER, or explore our resources and information archives to help individuals avoid strong urges to gamble.


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