Gambling debt can ruin lives and put the lives of your loved ones at risk of danger. Don’t let your debt the the cause of a tragedy. While we cannot tell you how to stop gambling, we can provide you with some tips on how to get out of gambling debt, one dollar at a time.
Currently, in America, there are roughly 23 million people who are in debt because of gambling. Every year, the gambling industry makes about $500 billion, putting the average debt for gambling addicts around $55,000.
Gamblers will pay with their credit cards, savings accounts, investments, retirement funds, or virtually anywhere else that they might be able to get their hands on the money. Typically, they claim that they just want to win that one big bet so they can get themselves out of debt. But all too often this just keeps piling up until it becomes completely unmanageable.
Gambling debt is bad for your credit, sure. But it also takes a toll on your personal and professional life. You could even be putting your family in danger.
If your pile of chips has turned into a pile of debt, you probably feel like there’s no way out. We’ve written this guide to help you learn how to get yourself out of gambling debt.
Treat Your Addiction
Before you can tackle your gambling debt, you have to treat your gambling problem.
And yes, you have a problem.
If you have gotten this far into debt with gambling, it’s no longer just a fun game you play every once in a while. It has become an addiction.
It’s common for people with a gambling addiction to deny that they have a problem, even more so than those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. But for your sake, and for the sake of your loved ones, you need to look at where you are right now.
Here are some of the signs that you need help for a gambling addiction:
- Moving money between accounts to hide gambling
- Betting more and more money to make up for losses
- Selling your possessions to have more money to gamble with
- Thinking about gambling all the time
- Lying about your gambling
- Being unable to stop
- Borrowing from co-workers
- Sealing from spouse or children
- Using bill money on gambling
- Taking out loans
- Turning to criminal activity
Admitting an addiction is difficult, but it’s an important part of this process.
Cut Off Funding
If you take your credit cards with you to gamble, close them. Closing a credit card isn’t usually sound financial advice, but in this case, it’s stopping you from creating more debt for yourself.
You can even go so far as to put a freeze on your credit report so that you cant open up any new lines of credit. You won’t be able to open any kind of account that requires a credit check until you unfreeze your report.
More Gambling Isn’t the Answer
Often times, gamblers believe that they can just win enough money to get themselves out of debt. But all too often, the exact opposite happens and you just create more debt that you have to repay.
And, for the sake of the argument, let’s just say you did get lucky and win a bet big enough to cover all of your gambling debt. What would you do with that money?
Chances are you would gamble it away again.
Check with your health insurance provider, they may offer to cover treatment for gambling addiction. And in some cases, your state might even pay for the cost of rehab if your insurance won’t cover it.
Check with your state’s Consumer Affairs Office, they have the information you need about state gambling addiction programs.
Paying Off Debt
Once you have dealt with your addiction it’s time to focus on the consequences of that addiction: your debt.
Write Down Who You Owe
First, write a list of everyone you owe. This could consist of credit cards, overdrawn bank accounts, casinos, or individual people. Every debt you can think of put it on that list.
It’s easier to take action against your debt when you have a complete view of all that you owe.
If you owe bookies or loan sharks, you might need to borrow from a friend or family member if they are threatening you to pay soon. This means that you will have to admit to your problem out loud, but when you do that you add a level of accountability. You could also gain a new support system.
Pay Off As Much As You Can Right Now
If you haven’t sold you valuable assets to pay for your gambling habit, you could sell them now and use the money to start paying off your gambling debt.
This includes things like jewelry, electronics, or collectibles. It’s not a good idea to sell your car if it gets you to and from work, but you should look at anything extra that you don’t need and consider selling it to pay off your debt.
The longer you wait, the worst this problem can become, especially if bookies and loan sharks are involved.
Consolidate Your Debt
This will give you a better idea of how much you will need to spend to break even.
The main idea here is to take out one big loan and use that money to pay off all of your smaller debts. Then, you only owe one, reputable creditor.
Consolidation credit cards and loans are some of the ways you can do this. If you go the card route, look for a card that is interest-free for a set length of time.
You could also enroll yourself in a debt management program. These programs will take over the payments on your credit card debts and help you get lower interest rates. You pay that company once every month and they pay the people you owe money to.
There are credit counselors out there that will talk to you and help you come to a decision about which one of these options is best for you.
Calculate how much money you need to survive every month. If you see any places that you could cut back on spending, do it. Then use these savings to pay off your debt.
You won’t have any idea how much money you can use to pay off your debt if you don’t know how much you need every month.
Get a Second Job
If you’ve budgeted and you just don’t have a way to pay off your debt right now, you need to get another job. Use all of your earnings from that job to pay off your gambling debt.
You can offer to settle your debts with the people you owe money to by offering a lump-sum payment. This lets you decrease the amount you owe and get rid of the debt.
This option will also tank your credit score because lenders report the debt as “settled for less than agreed” and “settlement accepted” for seven years.
You should only use bankruptcy as a last resort. But in extreme cases, like with very high gambling debt, it might be the best thing for you to do.
There is no promise that your debts will be discharged. But your creditors might view that debt as debt you took out without ever intending to pay it back.
If your bankruptcy is successful, you will have a fresh start, free from debt. Chapter 7 bankruptcy cancels your debts after liquidating your assets while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will set you up with a five-year repayment plan.
When you file for bankruptcy, make sure you have someone like this attorney, who is experienced and knows how to deal with court officials and your creditors.
The court issues an automatic stay when you file for bankruptcy, and this means that your creditors can’t attempt to collect that debt through you anymore. They have to deal with your attorney instead.
But, like we said, this option is only for extreme cases. This is because there are a lot of costs and consequences associated with filing for bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy attorneys are expensive and the actual bankruptcy won’t cover your back taxes, student loans, alimony, child support, or any of the fines that you owe to the government.
And it’s terrible for your credit. It will stay on your report for at least 10 years and you will have a hard time securing a loan or qualifying for a credit card. And your interest rates will skyrocket when you do qualify for credit again.
Getting Out of Gambling Debt
Excessive gambling easily becomes an addiction. When you’re always searching for a little extra cash to stay ‘in action’ and are willing to use the money you should be spending on food for gambling instead, you have a problem. But while gambling debt might feel like an insurmountable mountain, there are ways for you to get out from underneath it.
If you are someone you love are dealing with a gambling addiction, seek help today. You’re not alone.
For more money tips or advice for your business, visit us today!