GAMBLING DEBT | February 2024

February 2024

Gambling Debt in February 2024

Gambling debt is a problem that many people in the United Kingdom face. It can be challenging to find your way out of, and it can drastically impact your life. Especially in recent years, when the gambling commission has reported that nearly a fifth of gamblers said their gambling had increased since the pandemic began, people spending more money and accruing more gambling problems is more common than ever.

Gambling may become a cause for concern if you are feeling a loss of control over how much you spend on it. This is called ‘problem gambling’. Becoming a problem gambler almost always leads to debt issues.

If you’re in debt because of gambling, it’s essential to seek help as soon as possible. Some organisations can help you manage your debt and get your finances back on track. The sooner you seek help, the simpler it will be to get out of debt and move on with your life.

However, if you’re struggling with gambling debts and it seems that you are in a situation that is impossible to get out of there are some things you can do immediately to help get back on track.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

You can listen to an audio recording of this page below.

What is gambling debt?

Gambling debt is money that you owe because of gambling. This can include money you’ve lost while gambling, the money you borrowed to gamble with, or money you owe to someone because of a bet.

What can make gambling debts so extremely detrimental to the debtor’s financial situation and mental health is when it interacts with other forms of debt.

This could be by using credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts to finance gambling or by missing mortgage, loan, credit card, payday loan and bill payments after diverting funds towards betting.

How can gambling debt affect my life?

A gambling problem can have a severe impact on your life, and you are likely to experience financial difficulties. Problem gambling can cause financial problems and stress, and it can affect your relationships. If you’re struggling to pay off gambling debts, it’s important to seek help and advice from a professional or any number of support groups as soon as you recognise that you have a problem.

Personal finances

If you begin problem gambling and find yourself in gambling debt, it’s likely that your personal finances have been disrupted. This can cause all sorts of issues, including:

  • Difficulty paying important bills
  • Difficulty affording food and other essentials
  • Struggling to keep up with mortgage or rent payments
  • Missed loan payments or payments for household bills or credit cards
  • Credit card debt 
  • A bad credit rating
  • Borrowing money from family and friends

Unpaid bills can be very stressful and increase existing debt problems, especially if you are regularly spending more than you can strictly afford to on gambling.

Mental health

Experiencing debt problems is enough to affect anyone’s mental well-being, and research has shown a gambling problem can often lead to an increased likelihood of mental health issues. If you’re struggling to pay off a gambling debt, you might be feeling:

  • Anxious
  • Stressed
  • Depressed
  • Angry
  • Guilty
  • Ashamed
  • Hopeless

These feelings can be very tough to deal with, and they can have a considerable impact on your life as well as on your relationships and your career. If you’re struggling to cope, it’s important to seek help from a professional who can support you through your gambling problems.

Relationships

Usually, as a result of its impact on your financial situation and mental health, gambling habits can also affect your relationships. If you find yourself having debt problems because of gambling, you might find that:

  • Your partner is angry with you or doesn’t trust you anymore
  • Your friends and family become concerned about you or don’t want to see you anymore
  • You’re arguing with your partner or family about money
  • You’re lying to family and friends about money lost and time spent gambling.
  • You’re missing out on time with your friends and family because you’re gambling.

Like those suffering from any addiction, compulsive gamblers can lose interest in things you previously cared about and therefore have a profound impact on your life and relationships. Do not be afraid to reach out for help because your problems might seem insignificant or because you are not receiving support from the people in your life.

Furthermore, some gambling charities, such as GamAnon provide support for those who have a compulsive gambler in their lives.

debt from gambling

How to stop gambling

If you’re in gambling debt, it might seem impossible to stop gambling and begin to work your way out of debt. If that is the case, it is vital that you seek help as soon as possible. There are organisations that can help you manage your debt and get your finances back on track. The sooner you initiate the process of seeking help, the easier it will be to get out of debt and move on with your life.

There are also some simple things you can try to stop gambling and start getting your life back on track. These include:

Timeouts

A timeout is a defined period of time when you take a break from gambling. A timeout could be for a day, a week, or longer. During a timeout, you won’t gamble at all, and you’ll try and avoid things like advertising by betting firms and online gambling companies. This can be tough, but it’s important to stick to it to try and break your destructive habit.

"Gambling debt is money that you owe because of gambling. This can include money you've lost while gambling, the money you borrowed to gamble with, or money you owe to someone because of a bet."

Setting limits

Another way to stop gambling is to set limits on how much you can spend and how much time you can spend gambling. Once you’ve reached your limit, you’ll stop gambling for the day or week. 

This can be tough, but again it’s imperative to stick to it – your bank or mobile banking app may even have tools to help you impose spending limits on your bank accounts and credit cards.

Self-exclusion

Self-exclusion is when you ask companies to stop you from gambling with them. Again, this could be for a day, a week, or longer. Once you’ve been excluded, you won’t be able to gamble with that company again. This is also an option on most gambling websites.

gambling debts

To self-exclude from betting shops, you can contact the Multi-Operator Self Exclusion Scheme. GAMSTOP also provides a free self-exclusion service in the UK. Once you have signed up, you will be excluded from gambling with all online gambling companies licensed in the UK.

It’s important to note that self-exclusion is not a way to get out of debt. If you’re in debt because of gambling, you’ll still need to find a way to pay off your debts. However, self-exclusion can help you stop gambling and begin to get your life back on track: sorting out your debt is the next step.

Gambling site blockers

Gambling site blockers are software that you can use to block gambling sites and avoid gambling advertising. This can be a helpful way to stop yourself from gambling online and stop you from ending up in worse money struggles.

Find a support network

A support network is a group of people who can offer you help and advice. This could be friends, family, or a charity which runs regular peer support groups for people with gambling addictions or gambling habits.

How to get help with gambling addiction

If you’re having problems dealing with your gambling addiction, it’s crucial that you get help as soon as possible. The sooner you seek assistance, the easier it will be to overcome your compulsion and move on with your life however you might be unsure where to start.

If you feel unable to talk to someone in your life, then consider contacting sites like the gambling charity GamCare, Gamblers Anonymous or Gambling Therapy for advice and support as well as strategies to cope with your addiction.

Options range from phone calls, forums, one-to-one live chats, online group chats, and in-person meetings.

Alternatively, if your gambling problems have contributed negatively to your mental health, including depression and anxiety, you can contact your GP for support.

How to clear gambling debt

If you’re in debt due to gambling, it may be tempting to try to pay back the debt as soon as possible. However, this is often not the best option. If you’re struggling to cope with gambling debt, it’s essential to seek help from a professional who will be able to advise you on the best long term solutions for dealing with your unsecured debt and ensuring you don’t revert back to your previous ways.

help with gambling debt

It is never a good idea to turn back to gambling to try and win money in order to pay off debts; in fact, this can be one of the warning signs of problem gambling or compulsive gambling.

Instead, there are a number of things you can do yourself to start clearing your gambling debt. These include:

Making a budget

A budget is a plan for how you’ll spend your money. This can help you ensure that you’re only spending what you can afford from your bank accounts and that you’re not using money that you need for other things to gamble or taking out payday loans to try to make ends meet.

It might be a good idea to show this information to someone you trust so that you don’t regress into betting.

If you discover at the end of the month that you do not have enough cash to repay your debts alongside priority bills, you’ll need to try and earn some extra money or find a more permanent solution.

Make a list of everyone to whom you owe money.

Making a list of who you owe and how much can help to make things feel more under control. Include every debt that comes to mind, but don’t worry if you’re not sure about some of them. If you get professional assistance with your debt management, an advisor may be able to look up each creditor to discover precisely what unsecured debts you owe.

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.

If you are still struggling with the urge to gamble, getting another job may be a valuable method to start earning more money while keeping you occupied. This will offer you a constant and predictable revenue, which is particularly useful in paying off debts.

If you’re already working full-time, this likely isn’t an option for you; however, if you have spare time and want to pay off your debts faster, it’s worth considering.

Setting up a Debt Management Plan

A Debt Management Plan (DMP) is a plan that helps you repay your debts over time. This could be through making lower monthly payments or extending the length of time you have to repay the debt. A DMP can be a useful way to make repaying your gambling debt more manageable.

You can set up a DMP yourself, or you can get help from an organisation like StepChange.

Get Professional Debt Advice.

Suppose you feel like your gambling debt is too challenging to manage alone. In that case, there is no harm in asking for help from an expert who might be able to advise you on debt management solutions tailored to your personal circumstances and financial needs.

A professional advisor will be able to help you to look out for the gambling warning signs and avoid sinking back into problem gambling and the associated financial issues.

Can I get an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) to help clear my debts?

If you have gambling debts, you might consider setting up an IVA. This is a formal agreement between you and your creditors to repay your debts over a set period of time, usually five years, after which you might be able to get a debt write off.

You’ll need to make sure you will be able to afford the monthly payments, and there are a number of other factors to consider before setting up an IVA.

An IVA is a legally enforceable formal solution, so creditors will want to see proof of compliance, for example, recent bank statements. 

Payments made to online betting/gaming businesses or large cash withdrawals without a reasonable explanation might raise red flags. Creditors are searching for long-term commitment, so evidence of a recent gambling habit may hinder your chances of finding an insolvency practitioners licenced by the insolvency practitioners association who are willing to arrange an IVA on your behalf.

If you have recent gambling evidenced on bank statements, you may be required to delay an IVA application until the statements are clean for 1 to 3 months. But if you can secure an IVA, writing off debts accrued by gambling can be a great motivator to keep such problems firmly in the past.

help to stop gambling

Alternative Debt Solutions

If you’re struggling with gambling debt and other debts, there are a number of alternative solutions that might help. These include:

It’s worth seeking further advice on these debt solutions if none of the above suggestions seems appropriate for your situation.

Need someone to talk to about your finances?

If you’re struggling with gambling debt and other debts, there are a number of organisations that can provide free debt advice and gambling debt help.

  • National Debtline is a charity that provides free, easy debt advice to people with money problems. They also have an online debt assistance tool to assist you in determining the next step for your debt management journey.
  • The Money Advice Service is another charity that offers free advice and debt help. You can employ their online debt advice tool to get tailored advice on your options, or you can contact them for free on 0800 138 7777.
  • You can also speak to StepChange Debt Charity for free advice on debt problems. They provide a range of services, including debt solution advice and an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). You can call them on 0800 138 1111.

If you’re struggling with gambling problems, there are a number of options for gambling debt help available to you. 

It’s important to seek professional advice to ensure you choose the best solution for your individual financial circumstances and gambling problems. It is also vital that you remember that you are not alone in struggling with debt or gambling and that emerging from debt is not only possible but achievable.

Article author

Katy Davies

I am a keen reader and writer and have been helping to write and produce the legal content for the site since the launch.   I studied for a law degree at Manchester University and I use that theoretical experience, as well as my practical experience as a solicitor, to help produce legal content which I hope you find helpful.

Outside of work, I love the snow and am a keen snowboarder.  Most winters you will see me trying to get away for long weekends to the slopes in Switzerland or France.

Email – [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

What is gambling debt?

Gambling debt is money that you owe because of gambling. This can include money you’ve lost while gambling, the money you borrowed to gamble with, or money you owe to someone because of a bet.

How can gambling debt affect my life?

A gambling problem can have a severe impact on your life, and you are likely to experience financial difficulties. Problem gambling can cause financial problems and stress, and it can affect your relationships. If you’re struggling to pay off gambling debts, it’s important to seek help and advice from a professional or any number of support groups as soon as you recognise that you have a problem.

How to get help with gambling addiction

If you’re having problems dealing with your gambling addiction, it’s crucial that you get help as soon as possible. The sooner you seek assistance, the easier it will be to overcome your compulsion and move on with your life however you might be unsure where to start.

How to clear gambling debt

If you’re in debt due to gambling, it may be tempting to try to pay back the debt as soon as possible. However, this is often not the best option. If you’re struggling to cope with gambling debt, it’s essential to seek help from a professional who will be able to advise you on the best long term solutions for dealing with your unsecured debt and ensuring you don’t revert back to your previous ways.

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Disclaimer: Please be aware that this site is no longer under active management. As a result, we cannot assure the accuracy or relevance of the content provided. Visitors should use their discretion and consider the potential for outdated or inaccurate information before relying on any material found here.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that this site is no longer under active management. As a result, we cannot assure the accuracy or relevance of the content provided. Visitors should use their discretion and consider the potential for outdated or inaccurate information before relying on any material found here.