Published on January 19th, 2016 | by FinanceLoophole0
Can’t Pay Gambling Debts
Gambling problems and financial debt often go hand in hand. It is likely that if you are struggling to get a grip on your gambling, you are also highly likely to be struggling with debts accumulated from your gaming activities. Borrowing more money to pay for gambling can make your debts increase. If you have problems with gambling and debt, you need help to deal with both of these issues at the same time. Like most gamblers your dream is probably to stop gambling but you are waiting for the day when the big win comes home, you pay off all of your debts and then quit gambling. No doubt that sound familiar?
According to the UK NHS there are 593,000 gamblers in the UK who are currently having difficulty getting to grips with problems caused by their gaming – the majority of these relate to debt. Gambling is promoted on TV as harmless fun. For many people, the fun ended long ago when they plunged deeply into debt. It is now believed by many that gambling is becoming as big a social issue as alcohol is.
So You Have Gambling Debts – What Can You Do?
You may be thinking that you can solve your debt problem with that big win. But don’t forget that it was gambling which got you into this situation in the first place – so more gambling is highly unlikely to get you out of it. In fact, it will be more likely that it will simply land you with larger debts.
We have put together 5 top tips to help you with your gambling debt:
- Stop gambling – seems obvious but try and stop before your debt gets even more unmanageable. We have provided some helpful links at the bottom of this article to help you do this.
- Review your spending – see if you can save money on your mobile phone, insurance, TV licence, food, entertainment etc. Every penny counts…
- Hide major assets from your gambling debt. Transfer property titles to a spouse or to another family member may help. Take professional advice before you do this as it may not be the right thing for your specific circumstances.
- Destroy or let a responsible person look after your credit cards. Limiting your ability to pay for your gambling will help you resist the urge.
- Get additional income – get a second job or work overtime, rent out that spare room. Getting more income will help you pay the bills and if it involves longer working hours will also reduce the time you could be gambling.
Management Plans For Gambling Debts
It can be very difficult to get to grips with your own debt especially when it relates to gambling. It is particularly difficult to deal with because it is not unusual for people to feel some form of addiction to their gambling. This is especially true for the more addictive gambling formats such as fixed-odds gaming machines which have been described as crack cocaine and have led to an increasing amount of gambling debt in recent years.
Because it is so difficult to deal with all of your debt issues while fighting the urge to gamble more, it can often be helpful to get a third party to create a Debt Management Plan (DMP) for you.
A DMP is an informal arrangement between you and your creditors to enable you to make reduced payments to your unsecured debts. Your creditors are much more likely to accept your reduced payment if it is made through a trusted debt management company such as Bright Debt Solutions. This is more than likely to be the most suitable way forward for most people with debts with gambling debts which are out of control. DebtPlus won’t judge you – they will just try and get you back to where you want to be.
- You make one affordable payment each month which is sent to your creditors.
- You have help and support throughout your DMP
The DMP will help you work out who you owe money to, as well as prioritising the most important debt and those which can be left until a later date. Remember the people you owe money to would rather have some money back rather than nothing so they are generally willing to negotiate. Having your own agent at a debt management company who will be able to do that for you can be worth their weight in gold.
Writing Off Gambling Debt
There are other things you can do to avoid paying all of your gambling debt or writing your gambling debt off altogether although you will still require a DMP.
Your creditors may consider writing off your debts if you have no “available” income so you cannot make any payments nor do you have savings or any assets. To do this however you will need to convince your creditors that your personal financial circumstances are highly unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future. This would normally only be possible if your circumstances are exceptional; for example, you have a severe illness which prevents you working or you have a terminal medical diagnosis.
Write off gambling debt with a Debt Relief Order (DRO)
Normally a cheaper option to Bankruptcy. A DROs are specifically designed for people who have only got a few assets (less than £300) and a relatively low level of debt. A DRO will normally cost £90 and will enable you to write off “qualifying debts”. The qualifying debts will be written off 12 months after your DRO has been approved. A trusted debt management company such as DebtPlus can help you with a debt relief order as it can be quite complicated.
You can only apply for a DRO if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Write off Gambling Debts With A Protected Trust deed
If you live in Scotland the legislation is slightly different but you can still write off debt in a similar way to a DRO by using a Protected Trust Deed. Read our article on how to use a protected trust deed to write off your debts
Are Gambling Debts Enforceable?
The simple answer is yes they are – since 1st Sept 2007. This means that if you do not pay your outstanding gambling debt you could be taken to court to reclaim the money you owe. There is no differentiation between gambling debts you have from a betting office, casino or online gaming service operating inside the UK. People have asked this question so often we have produced a simple guide to the gambling debt law below.
Prior to 2005 gambling debt “contracts” were unenforceable. A contract is reference to any and all gambling arrangement. This could be a simple poker game between mates, or the placing of a bet at a bookies, and just about everything else in between. If the loser fails to pay up this was unenforceable.
The Gambling Act 2005 has however changed all of that. Section 335 of the 2005 Act states: “The fact that a contract relates to gambling shall not prevent its enforcement“. This Parliamentary legislation makes it perfectly clear that a gambling contract is now enforceable.
The Gambling Act 2005 came into force on 1 September 2007 but did not affect any gambling contracts prior to that date. So if you do have gambling debts prior to 1st Sept 2007 they would not be enforceable. This would not mean that they would not send around a debt collection agent to try and recover the money though – it just means they cannot take you to court to recover the money.
Get Help With Your Gambling
If you have been gambled to the point that you are having real problems managing the debt your gambling has left you in, then you clearly have a problem. If you have not done so already, we would recommend that you get professional help and treatment to provide you with the tools you’ll need to overcome your urge to gamble. If you don’t then you could land yourself even bigger gambling debts, you cannot afford to pay. It is also sensible to get involved with one of the group support organisations, such as Gamblers Anonymous.
We have found from our experience that there is little or no point in trying to tackle any of your existing debt if you go straight out and gamble to add on more debt to your existing pile of debt.
To help you find a suitable support organisation for your gambling problems, we have listed a number of support organisations below.
Help With Your Gambling Addiction
- Paying for gambling with your overdraft or credit card
- Missing payments to debts orpriority bills because you spent the money gambling
- Try and win money to pay off your debts by gambling
If this seems familiar, then it’s time to get help.
If you are one of the 593,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain, you can find further help to overcome your gambling addiction from the organisations listed below
- NHS – Gambling addiction advice – The NHS says that problem gamblers are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, stress, anxiety and depression. They have found that cognitive behavioural therapy usually has the best results.
- NHS – National Problem Gambling Clinic – This specialist NHS clinic is developing new models of psychological therapies for gamblers.
- GamCare – The primary support organisation in the UK. They run the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and provide personal counselling services.
- Gamblers Anonymous – Gamblers Anonymous uses the same 12-step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous and also has a support group for relatives called Gam-Anon.
Supporting Someone With Gambling Debts
If you know someone with a gambling problem you can contact Gam-Anon to find out what you can do to support them. Gam-Anon have a forum where you can read stories from people who support a friend or relative with a gambling problem, and you can share your own experiences here.
Making A Complaint about A Gambling Company
In the first instance you should report any complaints you have about a gambling operator the company you are having the dispute with. If they do not deal with your complaint suitably you make have grounds for a complaint.
You can make a complaint to your gambling operator if you have an argument or disputes with your gambling company which includes;
- disagreeing about whether you have won
- how much you have been paid
- the way your payments were managed
- terms and conditions
- bonus offers
- ID verification
- closure of your account
- commercial decisions taken by operators such as the voiding of a bet
- IT issues
- customer service issues
If you have a complaint about the way the gambling operator conducts its business you can complain to the Gambling Commissioner;
- if an operator fails to respond to a complaint that you have made
- you believe a gambling arcade is allowing underage gambling
- an operator is providing misleading information on their website
They won’t be able to get your money back if you lost a bet.
You can make your complaint in writing to;
Victoria Square House
over the telephone on;
+44 121 230 6666,
or by email to;
Find more information on the Gambling Commission website.