Gambling can be a slippery slope into debt, particularly if you think you may have a gambling addiction. It's easy for gambling activity to increase rapidly, and if the stakes are high, the risk of crippling gambling debt is too.
Having a regular gambling habit is something that can be rather difficult to stop, especially if you have occasional wins, which will make the average gambler want to play more often.
At NDH Financial, our skilled team of debt consultants are on hand to talk through an IVA as a solution to gambling debt.
May not be suitable in all circumstances.
Fees apply. Your credit rating may be affected.
What is Gambling Debt?
Put simply, gambling debt is a form of unsecured debt owed as a result of your gambling activity. This debt can be owed to individual creditors (by using loans or credit cards to fund your habit), bookmakers or a gambling provider. Gambling losses can constitute quite a large amount of money and it's easy for them to snowball, which can quickly put you into debt.
Compulsive gambling is quite common among those who have gambling debts, giving hope that continuing to gamble will enable them to make the money back, although this is rather rare and creates a good chance that you will increase your debt instead of decreasing it.
There are many different ways in which you can increase gambling debt - many people use credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans to withdraw money that can then be used to gamble. People sometimes stop paying off other debts or bills to use the money for their gambling debt, which can lead to other types of debt occurring, showing that it’s a situation that can really snowball.
What happens if you can't pay your Gambling Debt?
Like with other types of debt, there are consequences if you can't pay off your gambling debt.
For starters, your creditors will keep chasing you for the money owed, which can be very stressful and can contribute to mental health issues. It's also quite common for loan sharks to prey on those who have a preoccupation with gambling, even though loan sharking is illegal. In fact, evidence shows that they sometimes prey on gamblers at casinos, so you should never accept a loan from someone you think might be a loan shark - if you think you have taken out an illegal loan, then make sure you report them.
Some of the more severe consequences of gambling debt are bankruptcy and losing your assets (such as your house or car). Interest may also be added over time, making your overall debt even larger. The effects of not being able to pay off your debt will differ depending on the amount of debt you have and who your creditors are, but, no matter your situation, we invite you to an in-depth consultation to discuss your options for writing off your debt!
How to pay off Gambling Debt
Debt Management Plans (DMPs)
Debt Management Plans are an informal agreement between you and your creditors and can only be used on unsecured debts. If you have any secured debts, you'll need to make sure you have the appropriate finances to pay those debts off too.
How does a DMP work?
With a DMP, you set up a monthly payment to the provider of the plan, who then distributes the money towards your individual creditors, meaning you don't have to pay them all individually as your provider will deal with your creditors.
Your provider will charge a fee for doing this - however, there are some charities available that will provide a DMP without a charge, so if you're unsure about whether you can pay the fee, it's worth researching non-profit organisations first. The duration of the DMP depends on the amount of debt you have.
A DMP is not legally binding, so the agreement can be cancelled should you start to miss any payments. It should be noted that NDH Financial are unable to provide DMPs - however, we can apply for IVAs on your behalf.
Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs)
Individual Voluntary Arrangements are formal agreements that are legally binding between you and your creditors, so you need to make sure that you can keep up with your monthly payments as part of a payment plan before signing up for an IVA.
To qualify, 75% of your creditors have to agree to an IVA and you must reside in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. For Scottish residents, you will have to seek out an alternative debt solution.
How does an IVA work?
IVAs are quite similar to DMPs, as you can only include unsecured debts in your agreement. The exception to this is if the item that the secured debt refers to has been repossessed - in these situations, you can include the shortfall in your remaining balance. Other debts that an IVA doesn't cover include student loans and court fines, although this is not a definitive list.
An IVA usually lasts for 5-6 years, and the money would be paid directly to the insolvency practitioner you use to set up your IVA, who are also authorised to take a fee, before sending the remaining amount to your creditors. At the end of your IVA, any remaining qualifying debt will be paid off, so long as the terms have been complied with.
As a licensed insolvency practitioner, NDH Financial can set up an IVA for you - we specialise in IVAs, so you know you'll be getting the best service available if you choose to apply for one with us! For more information, check out our IVA learning hub.
There are other options for dealing with gambling debt, for example, bankruptcy or a Debt Relief Order.
In bankruptcy, you make an online application and pay the required fee. After this, you will be declared bankrupt, and all of your assets and debts will be dealt with in the bankruptcy. An Official Receiver will be appointed to deal with the estate, although in some cases, a Trustee may be appointed to manage the estate.
If you own an asset of value, such as a house, then the appointed official will look to realise your interest in it, to pay some money back to the creditors. The Official Receiver will also review your income and expenditure, and if they find that you have money left over to pay your creditors, then you will need to make payments for a period of 36 months.
Debt Relief Order
In a Debt Relief Order, you make an application through an approved intermediary, and pay the required fee. After a period of 12 months, any outstanding debt is written off.
To apply for the debt relief order, you will need to have debts less than £30,000, own assets worth less than £2,000, not own your own home, have less than £75 available to pay your creditors and have not been in a previous Debt Relief Order within the last 6 years. If your circumstances change during the 12 months the debt relief order is in place, then the order may be revoked, and you will need to look at other options.
In both options, the Official Receiver will review your conduct before applying for bankruptcy or the Debt Relief Order. When reviewing your conduct, there are certain things the Official Receiver is looking for. One of the things is whether you have carried out any gambling, rash or hazardous speculation, that has resulted in you increasing your debt position.
When the Official Receiver determines that your debt position has been made worse by your gambling, then they may apply for a bankruptcy restriction order, or a debt relief restriction order. Both of these will mean the restrictions of bankruptcy or a debt relief order will be applied for a period of 2 to 15 years, from the date the order comes into force, and will not end once you are discharged from bankruptcy, or the 12 months under the debt relief order has expired.
Does Gambling affect your Credit Score?
This question depends on how much you gamble and how much money you have lost/gained through gambling. However, if you have gambled to the point that you are now in debt, then those debts certainly can affect your credit report, although usually it won’t specifically state that your debt is related to gambling.
The more debts you have and the more interest you accrue, the more your credit score will be affected, especially if you aren't able to pay the base payments for your debt. If you have prior credit card debt from gambling, you must make sure you pay back the basic monthly payments to try and limit as much damage to your credit score as possible.
Can bailiffs force entry for Gambling Debt?
One of the main things people worry about when facing debt is the prospect of bailiffs. If you're an avid television watcher, you've probably seen images of bailiffs forcing their way into people's houses and aggressively taking their possessions away.
The good news is that bailiffs cannot make their way into your home by force for gambling debts, and you do not have to let them in if you don't want to. They must enter your home in a peaceful manner if you allow them in, but it's important to note that they can still enter if either your front or back door is left open.
What can bailiffs do?
Bailiffs can only be used if they have been appointed by your creditors by a court order and only if they are collecting a debt you are legally required to pay. They can only collect items that are yours or items that are co-owned by yourself and somebody else, such as your partner or spouse. They can only claim items that they can physically touch - this means that they can't collect assets held in a bank account or items they can see through a window that they can't physically access.
Bailiffs will usually take things that can be sold for a high value, such as cars, jewellery and electrical goods, although this list is not exhaustive. Things bailiffs can't take include pets, tools, vehicles displaying a blue badge/mobility vehicles (such as a wheelchair) and equipment needed for your job - although again, this is not a complete list.
What do I do if a bailiff visits my property?
As previously stated, a bailiff cannot enter your property unless you allow them in. If a court order has been issued, you need to make yourself fully informed of your rights surrounding bailiffs and what they can and can't take from you. This way, if you do decide to let them in, you can be aware if they try to take anything that they are legally not allowed to collect.
Keeping your blinds and curtains closed means that bailiffs cannot make a list of your possessions for future collections, and they cannot enter if there are children under the age of 16 or vulnerable people (for example, disabled or elderly people) in the property at the time of their visit. They also cannot visit between the hours of 9pm and 6am.
Always make sure you check the documentation the bailiff provides before they enter the property and check the court order has been issued correctly, if it has been issued at all. They may ask you to sign a controlled goods agreement.
What is a controlled goods agreement?
A controlled goods agreement is an agreement between yourself and the bailiff - it allows you to keep your goods and assets so long as you agree to continue paying your debt. It’s important to note that you don't have to sign it if you don't want to. The agreement will not be valid until you’ve signed it.
Do I have to pay bailiffs when they arrive?
You do not have to pay the bailiff when they arrive, although this means that they may keep returning to your property until you have paid them or allowed them into your property, and they may add fees onto your debt if they are not paid quickly.
If you're concerned about bailiffs visiting your property, then contact our friendly advisors at NDH Financial and we'll be able to advise you on how to formulate your next steps towards becoming debt-free.
Steps you could take if you have Gambling addiction
If you've built up a lot of debt and think you might have a gambling disorder or find that you have a preoccupation with gambling, it's important to take steps to address this, as well as formulating a plan for managing your debt. It's quite easy to fall down the slippery slope from being a casual gambler to a compulsive gambler, and there are many charities available to those with gambling issues.
If you think you might have a gambling issue, you should speak to close friends and family and make them aware of the problem before seeking professional help. Organisations such as Gamblers Anonymous may also be able to help you.
You might want to consider giving your credit/debit cards to a trusted family member or friend (make sure it's somebody you can trust wholeheartedly so you aren't taken advantage of) and limit access to credit and your bank accounts, so you don't end up with overdrawn bank accounts and credit card debt.
Gambling on credit cards was banned in the UK in 2020 - however, it’s still possible for people to use their debit cards or other forms of payment to gamble. This means you may use your credit card for everyday living expenses, to support your gambling habit. If you have any joint accounts and you are worried that you might spend money that isn't solely yours, then you also need to make the other party aware of your gambling habits.
Online gambling sites are responsible for a lot of gambling debt, but you can set limits and blockers on your internet to block these websites so that you can't access them anymore.
Get in touch with NDH Financial today for a free consultation about your debts.
Call us on 0800 002 9051 or apply below.
Worried about Gambling Debt? We're here to help!
If you're struggling with gambling debt, you're not alone. NDH Financial has helped thousands of people to escape the chains of debt and the licenced Insolvency Practitioner here at NDH has worked with people to get their finances back on track for over 15 years.
As a licensed insolvency practitioner, we specialise in IVAs and can provide a no-obligation consultation to run you through what we offer.
Contact the team at NDH Financial today and we'll do our best to support you in becoming debt-free through an IVA!
Do You Have Any More Questions?
Our IVA Learning Hub Can Help
We know you might have questions and that’s fine.
We can answer most of those on our call.
But we’ve also built our learning hub so that you can learn more about an IVA and see if one is right for you.
Click below to check it out.