Playing the lottery or betting on the horses can be a fun experience, especially when you get to take some winnings home. However, just like anything, gambling should be done in moderation. Gambling debt can often become a problem, and what is meant to be recreational can turn into a habit. Finances start to take a hit, which leads to worrying debt problems.
So, what is gambling debt? How does gambling debt affect your work, health, and family? What debt help and support is available if you have money worries due to gambling debt? These are some of the questions we will explore in our guide so let’s begin…
What is gambling debt?
People enjoy gambling. 47% of Brits have gambled in some way in the last four weeks. It is the excitement of winning that people find enjoyable. However, what happens when you are on the other end of the scale? The losing side. Most people would cut their losses and call it a day; however, others may carry on hoping that the next one will be a win.
That feeling of hope starts to become a habit and becomes uncontrollable. When you start using the money meant for bills and expenditure on gambling, this is when things start to become even more problematic.
However, if you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. The statistics speak for themselves. According to the research, online betting seems to be the most popular form of gambling, and almost 39% of online bettors have bet £10-100 per month. What is even worrying is it is estimated that 8.5% of non-profitable bettors have lost ‘thousands’ from gambling. And this is when gambling debt happens when your outgoings outweigh your expenditure.
How do you know you have a debt problem?
You might be the person who has a gambling problem, or maybe it is a loved one. It is essential to look out for debt problem warning signs to start looking at ways to deal with them. Ask yourself these questions to spot the characters if you have a gambling debt problem?
Have you spent more than you had planned on gambling?
Have you struggled to pay your bills because of gambling?
Are you feeling guilty about gambling when you shouldn’t?
Are you using your credit cards or overdrafts for gambling?
Are you feeling stressed and anxious about gambling?
It is crucial to get assistance if you have answered yes, so the problem doesn’t worsen. There is a lot of help available to offer you techniques to stop, but the money part won’t often go away. Read our section on ‘what you can do to help manage that gambling debt’.
How do you know you have a family member with a gambling problem?
You might not have a gambling problem, but you may have noticed changes in a family member, which could suggest they have. Signs of a problem can often get missed, but here are some helpful questions below to see if they need help.
Are they socialising less and reluctant to attend family events?
Do they hide correspondence from credit card and loans companies?
Do they get angry when asked about money and finances?
Do they struggle to buy essential items such as food or cannot pay the bills?
If you are unsure whether someone is struggling with this type of debt, it is essential to contact the gambling debt charity GamCare for advice on dealing with this situation.
How is gambling debt affecting your life?
Gambling debt is often a debt problem that is difficult to accept. Gambling may have given you a thrill in the short term; however, in the longer term, it takes a toll on your everyday life if it isn’t managed correctly. Take a look at some of the ways this type of debt can affect your life:
People who over excessively gamble and don’t control the habit will most likely face many financial issues.
Due to this problem, having less income in your account every month can often make it impossible to pay your essential bills. Things start to get more serious when you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage. This is when the financial difficulty arises. One missed bill leads to another, and you are in uncontrollable debt before you know it.
Turning to credit card debt, loans, and payday loans is one way a person with gambling debt might want to fund it or even pay off their existing bills due to this. However, this is just a vicious circle as paying off one debt with another can only lead to more debt, intensifying the money difficulties further.
Money difficulties can often cause a strain on relationships and could lead to breakups. Arguments arise, which could mean that the person facing the gambling problem may close in as they don’t want the confrontation. They may be reluctant to spend time with family or attend social gatherings for the fear that the issue of gambling might come up.
If their work colleagues are not aware of the situation, they could appear not to focus on their job correctly. This could cause a long-term problem and lead to disciplinary action if no one at work is aware of your situation. Their work relationships could also be affected by worrying more about their money problems than focusing on their job.
Debt problems can lead to stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression. You may be lying in bed at night thinking about your gambling debt situation. Sleep deprivation can cause a change in your mood and personality and, in turn, affect how you manage your day-to-day life.
Gambling debt may affect your mental health and your physical health. Previously you may have been an active, outgoing person; however, your gambling debt and your desire to gamble could overtake this side of your life. This could have a damaging effect on your physical well-being as you will be more than likely spending time sitting down gambling rather than being active and socialising.
How can I stop my gambling habit?
Gambling and addressing this issue are the first steps in making a change. Accepting you have a problem is the biggest obstacle. If you have done this, then take a look at some more helpful steps:
Baby steps lead to the big ones
It is often harder to stop something altogether, so start with the more minor actions. Look at habits that make you gamble? Do you usually do it at night when everyone has gone to bed? Do you use mobile phone apps to do this? How about deleting the apps, so there is little temptation for you to use them? Think of things that you could do to avoid gambling. If you go to the betting shop on your way after work, take a different route to avoid the temptation.
Get rid of your gambling fund
Credit or debit card debt is one of the easiest ways to fund a gambling habit. Please get rid of saved cards from your online gambling accounts, so it creates a little bit of an obstacle for you to gamble with. If you have easy access to your credit cards, store them away. Out of sight and out of mind means that if it is hard for you to get hold of them, which means you might be reluctant to use them on gambling sites.
Exclude yourself from betting shops and websites
As betting is a form of addiction, most reputable betting retailers will allow their customers the option to exclude themselves from gambling. This would mean that staff would prohibit the customer from placing a bet, or a website would stop an excluded customer from using the account.
If you don’t have the willpower to do this, ask a friend or family to help you. Get them to come with you and make that decision to exclude yourself.
Talk it through with your friends and family
A gambling habit can be something hard to open up and admit to. However, if you have a good network of family and friends to support you, try to be transparent. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved. Once you have passed that hurdle, you will notice that you can start tackling the other issues like your gambling debt.
Treat your addiction
As we said earlier, an excessive gambling habit is a common issue. There is lots of free advice which you can get through gambling websites. Some companies also offer counselling on kicking the pattern out.
Find a support system
Gamblers Anonymous can offer you a great supportive environment where you can discuss your issues with people going through the same journey as yours.
Understanding what winning means
It is essential to understand how much money you have won through gambling when you gamble. The winning is the best part. However, in reality, many people assume that they would win if they placed a £10 bet on five different horses and won £30 on one of them. Instead, when you do the Maths, you make a loss.
If you like to gamble, keep a record of your bets and winnings and see how much money you have won. You will be shocked at the reality and may think twice about how much you are gambling.
How can I get rid of my gambling debts?
Adopt the right mental mindset
Unlike other debts, paying off gambling debts, you need to be firstly in the right psychological mindset. Admit you need to pay off your debts to get you out of the red. That is the most challenging part as there is so much temptation. Try and adopt some of the methods suggested in the ‘How to stop my gambling habit?’ section.
Go through your financials
Next, it is time to take action. You are paying it off. Collate all your loans, credit card and other debt correspondence and start building up a financial breakdown of your outgoings and income. Work out how much in debts you owe and your essential expenditure like your monthly food budget. Use our budget planner to do this.
Do some research on the debt solutions available
There are plenty of debt solutions available to help you consolidate your debts. It is looking at which one suits your needs to help you clear your debts. Please take a look at our debt solution and support pages. These pages have extensive guides to help you answer any questions regarding your debt problem. We have details on debts solutions such as IVA and Debt Consolidation and other options such as Debt Management Plans or Bankruptcy. Picking the correct answer is important.
Get in touch and start taking control of your debt issues
You will now be equipped to contact one of our help Money Advisors. Gambling debt can have an enormous impact on your life, so get in touch with us today to help you deal with your circumstances and offer the right debt solution to help you clear your debts.