Most of us have gambled in our life. Whether it’s on sports, politics, or even just made a small bet with friends - if you’ve ever risked money on the outcome of an unpredictable event, you’ve gambled. Although gambling can be a legitimate and fun pastime, for some people it can turn into an addiction.
Gambling may be a cause for concern if you are feeling ‘a total loss of control’ over how much you spend on it. This is called ‘problem gambling’. If you are getting into large amounts of debt because of gambling, it’s a sign your pastime could no longer be healthy and you may wish to seek help.
If the below experiences sound familiar to you, you may be suffering from problem gambling:
Wondering how to stop gambling? You can get tailored advice from GamCare.
Problem gambling can have a very negative effect on lots of different aspects of your life. It can influence your mental health as you may start to experience extreme emotions or mood swings related to your winnings and losses.
It can also make relationships with family and friends difficult if you are lying about how much debt you’re in because of gambling or where you’re spending all your time. Unsurprisingly, it is also not good for your finances if you are uncontrollably spending and borrowing more money to fund your habit.
Once a gambling problem is treated, it will be far easier to start paying off what you owe. This can seem daunting, but gambling arrears are no different to many other kinds of debt and there are options available to you when it comes to a solution. Below are some ways you could get on top of the matter:
Make a list of everyone you owe.
Making lists of who you owe and how much might start to make things feel more manageable. Include all debt you can think of but don’t worry if you are unsure about some of them. Often, if you get professional help with the debt, they can find out every creditor you owe through a credit check.
Sell valuable items you don’t need.
This could be a quick way to start paying off your debt. For example, selling a car or any asset which is less important than the amount of debt you have.
Get a second income.
Getting another job could be a great way to start earning more money and keeps you busy if you are still overcoming the urge to gamble. This will give you a steady and predictable income which is ideal when it comes to paying back debts. If you work full time already this may not be feasible but if you have free time and want to start paying back the debts quicker then it’s worth considering this option.
Make a budget plan.
By having a budget, you know what is coming in, what it is being spent, and how much money you will have at the end to pay back the debts. Sharing this with someone you trust could be a good way to ensure you stick to it and don’t relapse into betting. If you work out that you don’t have enough money at the end of the month to pay back your debts then you will need to earn some extra money or find a more formal solution.
Get Professional Debt Advice.
If you feel like your gambling debt is too difficult to manage alone, there is no harm in asking for help from an expert. Here at Debt Support Centre, we give honest advice that is tailored to your situation, with no judgement, and 100% confidentiality.Get Debt Help
Bankruptcy could be considered if you are really struggling to make repayments to your creditors and do not see your situation improving in the future.
However, it is important to remember that if gambling is identified as contributing to your Bankruptcy and the Official Receiver considers it to be justified, they could make an application for a Bankruptcy Restriction Order which can extend the bankruptcy restrictions against you for between 2 – 15 years.
It is important to remember there are options other than bankruptcy when dealing with significant debts. Many people have not heard of Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) but they can be a good solution if you cannot afford the contractual repayments to all your unsecured debts but want to pay off as much as you can reasonably afford.
Once approved, creditors in your IVA will freeze interest and charges, ensuring the amount of debt you owe will not increase An IVA can protect assets - such as your home or car - from being repossessed.Help me with my debts
* As of 10/02/22 20,601 of our customers were in an active IVA. ** Average unsecured debt anticipated to be written off for IVAs approved between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021 for FSS customers is £10,645.20, based upon successful completion. *** Based on independent verified reviews from Feefo.
Gambling debts can be legally enforced as long as it relates to gambling which is lawful. Therefore, if your betting was lawful and followed regulations pertaining to Gambling Act 2005 or the National Lottery Act 1993 it can be imposed.
Similar to many other debts, if you enter into an IVA, part of your debts may be written off. However, this depends on whether your creditors agree to the IVA, it’s terms and the successful completion of the IVA.
It is a difficult process to get money which has already been wagered and lost back from betting companies. You will need to have a very good reason - for example if you believe there is fraud on your account. In this case you must contact your bank, report the fraud, and ask them to freeze your account. Then contact the gambling site, ask them to freeze your account, and give them your crime reference number.
If the money has already been wagered but not lost, then you should email their customer support team explaining your situation. All issues are likely to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis so you will have to await their response. However, more often than not betting companies do not allow people to withdraw from bets once they have been placed. If you need support, contact the UK Gambling Commission and they may be able to take your case further.
If you have just accidentally put money on your online gambling account, and it has not been wagered, then it is a relatively easy process to get it back. Just email the betting company’s support team and explain it was a mistake. Most of them have a pay-out functionality and the money will be back in your account in a few days.
GamCare offers confidential support for families and friends with gambling problems. They are open 24 hours a day through online chat or mobile. Gam-Anon runs regular peer support groups for friends and family with gambling problems. The meetings are a chance to share your experiences confidentially with people in the same position.