16 July 2014
Gambling addiction in on the rise in the UK, powered by online gambling which makes it easy for problem gamblers to fuel their addiction anywhere, anytime. It can have devastating consequences for those affected, including financial hangovers which can impact gambling addict's lives long after they've dealt with their problem.
What is problem gambling?
According to experts, gambling becomes a problem once it starts to disrupt your daily life, affecting you personally, professionally or financially. Problem gambling can occur with scratch cards, fruit machines, casinos, sports betting, bingo and poker, online and offline.
Signs of gambling addiction
These are tell-tale signs that gambling is a problem:
- Spending increasing amounts of money
- Thinking about gambling more
- Feeling anxious or irritable if you can't gamble
- Neglecting relationships or your job
- Lying about how much you're spending
- Being tempted to or actually stealing money
- Running up debts to fund gambling
- Struggling to stop or cut down on gambling
- Concern from friends and family
Unlike drug or alcohol abuse, problem gambling doesn't have easy-to-spot physical signs so addicts can hide their behaviour from friends and family for years, even decades
How problem gambling leads to debt
Compulsive gamblers can run up significant gambling debts, which can continue to cause problems even once the addiction is behind them.
As gambling consumes more and more of an addict's income, they can resort to debt either to fuel more betting or to cover basic necessities like food or bills. Credit cards or loans can also be used to fund social and lifestyle spending, so that friends and family don't realise how much is being spent on gambling.
These debts can be compounded as gambler's place more bets, trying to make good their losses and hoping to pay off their borrowings.
As the amount owed increases, this can create financial problems such as missed credit card payments, unpaid utility bills and mortgage arrears. In severe cases, this can result in possessions being seized by bailiffs, home repossession or bankruptcy.
All of these damage credit ratings, which can result in gamblers resorting to loan sharks when other credit is exhausted or denied.
Reformed gamblers can find themselves with unmanageable gambling debt repayments which can make it difficult to afford necessities, leading to more borrowing.
What help is available?
Treatment and support for gambling addicts includes:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- The National Problem Gambling Clinic
- 12-step programme at Gambler's Anonymous
- GamCare support line
Problem gamblers can self-exclude from gambling establishments, closing their accounts and banning themselves from placing further bets for between six months and five years.
For those left with problematic gambling debts, calling us and speaking to a debt counsellor can help bring unmanageable debts under control. Options include debt consolidation loans, debt management plans, IVAs and, as a last resort, bankruptcy.
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