Laying down a bet can be exciting. It has the combination of adrenaline and possibility; which could be the recipe for a really good time. However, if you don’t respect your limits, gambling can be a debt disaster.
According to the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario, 2.5 per cent of Ontarians have moderate to severe gambling problems, with the majority not getting treatment. Although these stats reflect just one province, the problem is applicable country-wide.
“Unlike other addictions, like drug and alcohol abuse, problem gambling may not have the obvious physical symptoms, which can make it difficult to identify. The problem is often discovered after the long-lasting effects of damaged credit are revealed,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“For the chronic gambler, the potential promise of a payout at the end can almost justify using credit to fund gambling activities. Rest assured that over the long run the house always wins-which means that you, and your financial well-being will lose.”
Do you think constantly about gambling? When gambling do you find it difficult to stop or only do so when all your money is gone? Do you find yourself ignoring bills and financial obligations, directing any cash you have towards gambling? Do you hide bills from your spouse? Do you sell your belongings to fund your habit? Do you engage in criminal activities to get money to gamble?
Do you feel guilty when gambling or experience extreme highs when you win and extreme lows when you lose? Are your personal relationships suffering because of the time and money you spend gambling?
Do you keep telling yourself that you’ll stop after that “one big win” where you’ll pay off your debts and walk away?
These are all signs of a gambling problem. Don’t gamble and seek help before it’s too late.
How to avoid gambling debt
If you are gambling in order to boost your income, why don’t you actually boost your income with a part-time job? You’ll have a steady stream of income that goes to you (and not to the house). You’ll also have something to occupy your time rather heading to the casino or hanging out online.
Responsible credit use means spending within your means. If cash in your hands means money for gambling, take advantage of some tools that will eliminate the temptation. Use automatic deposit and automatic bill payment. Leave your ATM and credit cards with someone you trust for an extra layer of debt protection.
How to help someone with a problem
If you think that someone you love has a gambling problem, confront them, but don’t be accusatory. Have the conversation armed with a plan on how to get help.
Try to time your conversation when your loved one might be more receptive to your message. Gambling operates on swings of euphoria and extreme lows, filled with regret and remorse. They may be more willing to consider change when they are remorseful.
Have you gambled away your financial future in a bid for the “big win”? It’s not too late to turn your finances around and get back on track. We can help. Call one of our trained credit counsellors or check out our free online debt analysis.