Father in law has gambling problem

My father in law is 84 years old. He sold his house and moved in with me and my husband. He left one day and never told us where he was going. He came back three months later with no money. He gambled everything away. He stayed with us until January and left again saying he was going to file bankruptcy. He ended up in a homeless shelter in Arkansas. He has never filed bankruptcy. We get many calls from his creditors. Check and Go came to our house to get his car. They loaned him $4,500. My father in law says he can stop gambling and doesn't need to go to Gamblers Anonymous. He has always loved gambling. Mostly Dog & Horse Racing. Loves to play crap at the casino. He has always been able to hide his gambling problem from the family. We all knew he loved to gamble but never knew how bad it was until his wife died one year ago. Any advise would be appreciated.

Worried Family

Hi there, what a difficult situation for you and the family. Just from a mormal point of view he might be missing his wife, and therefore seeking to fill tat void in his life by gambling more than ever before.

He also might feel some guilt about him gambling all his life and it was your mum that went first.It is so hard to say.BUT from a compulsive gamblers point of view(my own I must say)It is very easy when all sems down to just blow the lot so to speak.Thoughts of "I have nothing now anyway etc" pop in and it just snowballs. I reckon he wanted to come back well before 3 months but could not do it.His addiction was being fed so well how could he?

If you are in the position to make your faher in law fel wanted, needed and loved.At his age and after the loss of house and wife he would be feeling worthless. Offer him all that support but I am afraid to say refrain from helping out financially. Because while in denial he WILL blow money.

Im a bit muddled up with this but I hope a few lines help.

All the best



Thanks for your reply. Today in the mail we got a letter from my father in law. He said when he sold his house he only had $3,000.00. He said he did file bankruptcy and will go to court in May or June. He is living in my stepsons truck. He says that is his bed. He said he could not subject me and my husband to his problems any longer. My husband did offer for him to live with us, but I guess he was too ashamed. He gets only $800. from S.S. He could have lived with us rent free. I don't understand his thinking. My husband and I feel awful about this.


I hope that you're not shifting the guilt to yourself if you had nothing to do with his gambling problems. Place a limit on how much resources you're willing to help him. As a former compulsive gambler, I'm glad that some people got tired of me and turned their backs on me. Those people are now my friends again because I'm not relying on them for anything.

Your situation is unique too because he's 84.

I wish you all the best in the world.

Yes I guess you could say that my husband and I are feeling guilty about this. We have given him plenty of money in the past to cover his bills. Always saying not to tell his wife because she would be so upset. The last time he took off and came back because he was down on his luck and had to call us for money my husband told him we would not give him any more money. He could stay with us and not charge him anything. I guess his guilt was just too much. He also calls his brother and sister in law and asks for money.

You, your husband, his brother, his siter in-law should get together and come up with a solution. Compulsive gamblers have a way of affecting the lives of those around them. After what I've gone through, I'm glad people finally stopped helping me and turned their backs on me. I didn't know right from wrong when I was deep into gambling.

Let us know how it goes.

Good luck.


I feel for you,your family, and your father-in-law.
Is there any resources you can access because of his age? I imagine he is very depressed, complicated by the fact that he is getting on in years and may not be competent. Would it be possible to find him a safe environment to live in, where he would get interaction with others and supervised care? You have probably thought of all the options. Doesn't seem right that gov't can take all the money they can get from gambling, and there would be no alternative for your Father-in Law. Thinking of you and wishing you well in dealing with this.
Take care Smile


Thank you for your reply. We were thinking of maybe trying to take guardianship of my father in laws money but he would never agree to that. That would just make him run away from us even more. I am just wondering when you say turn your back on him would that be too cruel at his age? We can give him safe shelter in our home, but I think when he is living under our roof we can see how bad his gambling addiction is. He is able to hide it from us when he is not living under our roof. He would go to the off-track betting place everyday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. He would never say where he was going, it would always be I'm going to the store or some other excuse. We never said anything about it to him either.

I guess we will have to try to stop worrying so much and whatever happens will happen. Thanks to everyone.