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People with gambling problems and gambling addiction often end up deep in gambling debt.

And while a large percentage of the British public indulge in the odd bit of gambling –  from a quick bet on a football match to buying a Lotto ticket every week – a problem gambling habit can be really bad for your finances.

More than two million people are at risk

A recent study revealed that an estimated 430,000 people in the UK suffer from serious gambling addiction, while a total of more than two million people are addicted to gambling or at risk of developing a problem, which is why the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has announced tougher standards on gambling advertising from April 2.

Borrowing more money to pay for gambling can make your debts increase while struggling to keep on top of your increasing debts can be a trigger for more gambling.

Even more moderate gamblers have a tendency to bet more than they can afford, getting themselves into an even worse situation as they try to chase losses.

Before you deal with gambling debt, you first need to treat the gambling addiction.

The warning signs

• Using your overdraft or credit card to pay for gambling
• Missing payments to debts or priority bills because you’ve spent the money on gambling
• Gambling to try and win money to pay off your debts
• Using your overdraft or credit card debt to pay for gambling

If any of these sound familiar to you, it’s time to get help now.

Gambling doesn’t just affect your finances, it can impact your mental health and your relationships with friends, family and colleagues.

Dealing with problem gambling

Breaking the habit is unlikely to be easy but here are a few tips to get started on dealing with problem gambling:

• Avoid situations and people that might make you gamble
• Cut off your source of funding such as credit cards and overdrafts
• Take up alternative activities that could keep you busy and plan your time
• Ask betting shops, casinos and arcades to bar you
• Block gambling websites on your computer and phone
• Realise that more gambling won’t solve the problem
• Seek professional help for your gambling addiction

Your NHS GP can discuss what options are available in terms of help in your area, especially if your gambling problem is affecting your health and mood.

GamCare also has a helpline you can call to talk through the options, which can include counselling. Call Freephone 0808 8020 133 from 8 am till midnight, seven days a week.

Many people also find confidential peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous or SMART Recovery help to keep their gambling problems under control.

Once you deal with the addiction, then you can focus on the debt:

• Write out a list of everyone you owe money to so you can take action on each
• If you owe bookies or loan sharks, you may have to borrow money from a friend or family member to pay the gambling debt – although this might be awkward it may also provide you with the support system you need to beat the gambling addiction for good
• DO NOT resort to payday loans or similar companies – this will only give you more debt and make it more difficult for you to clear it
• Get a second job to earn extra cash and help pay off your debt
• Sell off any assets or items you don’t need to help pay off your gambling debt
• Talk to your creditors directly – they may accept a settlement payment on your gambling debts if you can come up with a percentage of what you owe
• Options such as bankruptcy or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) are other options you can consider to help you repay your debts

The best thing you can do to fix debt worries is to talk to someone experienced in helping people in your situation, such as the Money Advice ServiceStep Change or one of our friendly agents here

If you have debts of over £5,000, and you're struggling to repay them, get in touch today!

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