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Gambling Addiction and Debt

For some, poor money management skills is an inability to develop healthy financial habits. Others, struggle with an addiction to using money impractically, namely gambling addiction.

What is gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction is a type of impulse-control disorder. This disorder leaves little to no control over the urge to gamble. These urges persist even if those suffering are aware of the negative implications.

What makes gambling addiction unique and particularly tough is its intrinsic tie to money. It’s pretty much impossible to live in today’s world without using money. This leaves gambling addicts with very little chance of weeding the fuel they need to feed their addiction out of their lives completely.

How many people struggle with gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction can affect anyone. Over 76% percent of Canadian adults gamble each year. Around 220,000 of them struggle with a gambling problem. Another million tread on thin ice by partaking in risky gambling behaviour. That number may not seem all that high, but when you consider how much money it equates to it tells a different story. On average, an active gambling addict loses $500,000 a year to gambling. That’s a staggering one hundred ten billion dollars a year!

These addictions can form for many reasons. In time, gambling can drastically shape a person’s behaviour and relationships. What most see as a game, addicts see as a need.

What are the common contributors to gambling addiction?

Some fundamental emotional reasons that contribute to the development of compulsive gambling include:

  • Avoiding social isolation by visiting betting shops or casinos
  • Chase a rush of adrenaline and dopamine that occurs when winning
  • Unresolved depressed or negative feelings that cannot be easily resolved
  • Boredom with nothing else to do
  • A way to relax after a long stressful day

Gambling addiction can become a severe problem. This addiction can lead to losing everything, from possessions to friends and family. Getting a hold of not only the addiction but the debt is something that should be a high priority.

How to deal with gambling addiction and debt

Getting a handle on gambling debt starts by first acknowledging the problem.

These are some of the more overt signs someone has a problem gambling:

  • Unable to control or manage impulsive urges to gamble even as the odds are against you
  • Problems at work that make it challenging to work efficiently. These include increased workload, absence from work, or can’t concentrate.
  • Unable to focus or put time into other hobbies and responsibilities.
  • Increase the amount gambled to regain lost bets or to chase a similar thrill
  • Impacting relationships with those closets to you negatively
  • Hiding the amount of money and time spent betting from friends and family
  • Stealing so you can gamble more
  • Denying you have a problem

Gambling addicts can also suffer from physical symptoms. These include anxiety, irritability, headaches, stomach upsets and stress-related symptoms.

Choose to quit gambling

After acknowledging that you have a problem, you must choose to stop gambling.

Quitting is, of course, easier said than done. Some experts say that a great way to start is to find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings. They also say it’s important to seek help for underlying mood disorders.

Getting finances back on track

With the underlying cause addressed, now is the time to start tackling the more tangible parts of gambling addiction.

Determine Your financial standing

You should first analyze your finances before paying off your gambling debt.

Ask yourself: How much is your debt relative to your income? Do you have enough savings to deal with unexpected expenses or emergencies?

You want to ensure that paying off your debt won’t negatively affect other parts of your life.

Cut off the gambling fund

To prevent yourself from gambling, remove things that make gambling possible. One of the obvious things would be your gambling fund.

Ensure funds used for gambling aren’t immediately present. Put the funds in a savings account that you can’t access or have friends or family members hold onto it for you. This isn’t a foolproof way to counteract addiction entirely, but putting a roadblock in place makes gambling less accessible and enticing so it can help.

Create a spending plan

Creating a spending plan ensures that you don’t have extra spending cash for gambling. Factor in food, rent, bills, and other expenses.

Get a support system

Quitting gambling is something that shouldn’t be done alone. Many find success by leaning on their support network or joining a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous.

How to pay off gambling debt

Once the decision is made to address gambling addiction, paying off your debt as soon as possible is crucial. Having your debt linger will make it hard to leave the addiction behind.

These are some of the strategies available to make it easier.

Calculate your total debt

Calculating your gambling debt may be as simple as paying off a single source, but that may not always be the case. If you owe numerous gambling sources, calculate your total so you can devise a payment plan.

Consolidate your debt

To make repaying your debt much more manageable you can consolidate all your debt into one. Often, this is done by taking out a loan and then using that money to pay off all your separate debts. Debt consolidation can save money and help you pay off the debt sooner. This will also mean having fewer payments to make each month and less likelihood that you’ll be late on payments.


If things are looking too bleak, you may have to file for bankruptcy. If you are forced to file for bankruptcy, it does have some positives. After filing, collection agencies will no longer harass you. You will also avoid debt lawsuits from creditors. Finally, you will no longer have creditors garnishing your wages.

Additional Options for Debt Assistance

Here are some more options for those who are looking for some extra help with alleviating their debt.

Credit counselling

Credit counselling is used to help individual debtors with debt settlement. This counselling consists of education, budgeting and the use of various tools. The debtor can then use this knowledge to reduce and ultimately eliminate debt.

Debt settlement

Debt settlement is a settlement negotiated with a debtor’s unsecured creditor. Typical, creditors will reduce the debt by around half. However, results can vary widely. After the settlement is agreed upon, it should be solidified in writing.

Debt management programs

Debt management programs implement plans to pay off high-interest unsecured debt. These are done mainly with credit cards and don’t involve borrowing money. Typically plans will reduce interest rates on credit cards drastically, often to 0%. This makes monthly payments more affordable so that consumers can find debt relief.


Gambling addiction is very serious and could end up doing a lot of damage to one’s financial and personal life. Just with any debt, it is crucial to deal with gambling-related debts as quickly as possible. Debt piling up can cause even more damage to a person’s life and make moving on challenging. This is why having a solid plan for reducing or getting rid of gambling debt is essential. Enlisting the help of a professional gives you better chances of success, a likelihood of a quicker timeline, and knowledge of strategies you may not know about.

If you have a lot of debt from gambling and are struggling to get rid of it, our team of experts at Consolidated Credit can help. With one phone call we can set up a plan to your debt-free life.

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