Sports Betting on NFL and Gambling with Debt

The stars of the gridiron are returning to action this weekend as the NFL begins its 2014/2015 season. Although Canadians do not have an NFL team to call their own, that doesn’t stop many of them from having a favourite team thousands of kilometres from home. And, for some fans, a Sunday afternoon is not complete without a wager on a game or two.

Statistics for sports betting are notoriously hard to come by, as much of it takes place online or between friends, but one recent study by ProblemGambling.ca found that around 15% of adult males in Ontario participated in some form of sports betting.

Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, says gambling could lead to Canadians needing help with debt.

“Gambling is inherently risky,” says Schwartz. “A few misplaced wagers could leave you seeking debt relief. Either cut it out altogether or proceed with extreme caution.”

Some signs that your sports betting may jeopardize your goal of living debt free include:

  • You have trouble controlling your gambling – This is the “don’t know when to stop” issue. Lacking the ability to control yourself when it comes to gambling is a sure-tell sign that you have a problem. The danger of over-gambling comes when you get in over your head and start having trouble managing debt.
  • Secrecy about gambling – If you are too ashamed to tell others about your sports betting, you may have a problem. Some gamblers do not disclose their activities to others as they fear their judgment, which can only compound their problem as they have no one to watch over them to ensure things don’t spiral out of control.
  • Gambling when you can’t afford to lose – If you are counting on a big gambling win as a method of paying off debt, you are in trouble. The only answer to how to get out of debt is to save money and live frugally. Gambling, when the odds are stacked against you, is not the quick fix you hope it will be as it will often lead to more debt and leave you struggling to find other debt solutions.
  • Borrowing money to gamble more – For problem gamblers, resorting to borrowing money from family and friends to gamble more is a sign that the betting problem has become quite serious. The gambler’s mind is often irrational as they hope that gambling, which is the reason they are in debt, will help them get out of debt. This belief will only lead to seeking more debt relief in the future and is a very dangerous cycle.
  • Concerned family and friends – The people closest to you will eventually become concerned about your gambling, no matter how hard you try to keep it a secret. When this point is reached, you know that a gambling program has expanded from a personal issue to something that is affecting others.

If you think you, or a loved one, may have a gambling problem, check out ProblemGambling.ca and GamblingHelpOnline.org for more help.

Consolidated Credit has trained credit counsellors who are willing to help concerned Canadians with their financial issues. Often, learning how to budget your money and knowing how to manage money are two neglected skills that could prevent many debt problems before they start. Reach out today by calling for your first counselling session.

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