Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming, or are, problem gamblers (Australian Government), with the actions of one problem gambler negatively impacting the lives of between five and 10 others. This means there are up to five million Australians who could be affected by problem gambling each year, including friends, family and employers of people with a gambling problem.
People with gambling problems and gambling addiction often end up in significant debt, often spread across credit cards, loans and in some cases even home equity. We’ve outlined a number of methods to help deal with gambling debt and avoid it in the future.
1. Cut off your source of funding
If you’ve been gambling with credit cards and are beginning to amass unsustainable levels of debt, closing them may become your best option. Although it will affect your credit score, closing your credit cards will ultimately keep you from creating more debt. You can also put a freeze on your credit report to make it harder to open new credit card or loan accounts, however it’s important to remain mindful that you’ll need to unfreeze your credit report to open any type of account that requires a credit check.
2. Realise that more gambling is not going to solve the problem
Unfortunately, many gamblers fall into the trap of thinking they can win enough money to pay back their debts, when more often than not the opposite occurs, creating even more gambling debt to repay.
3. Get treatment for your gambling addiction
Seeking treatment for gambling addiction can also be a useful method in helping to get you back on track, services such as Gambling Help Online can be useful places to start. In some cases health insurance providers may also pay for treatment for gambling addiction.
4. Paying Off Gambling Debt
Once the addiction is brought under control, attention should then turn to servicing the debt. Start by writing out a list of all the money you owe so you can take action. Put all the debts you can think of on the list and if you learn of any new gambling debts, add them to the list also. You could sell valuable assets and use them to pay off your gambling debt including furniture, electronics, jewellery or even your car, while a second job is also a useful tool in helping to pay off your debt.
Creditors may also be willing to accept a settlement payment on your gambling debts in an effort to avoid bankruptcy. This can be achieved by coming up with a percentage of what you owe, perhaps by asking family or friends of refinancing an existing mortgage.
If gambling debt has taken control of your life, or if you need any general financial advise, get in touch with one of our ChapterTwo consultants today.