People with gambling problems and gambling addiction often end up deep in debt. When gambling debt becomes a problem, the debt has often gone beyond money owed to casinos or riverboats. Instead, you may have credit card debt, loan debt, and even home equity debt all associated with gambling problems. There are ways to deal with all the debt you’ve created through gambling.
Treat the Gambling Addiction
Before you deal with gambling debt, you need to treat the gambling addiction. It’s been said that problem gamblers are less willing to admit they have a gambling addiction than drug addicts. For your sake and the sake of your family and loved ones, take some time to really look at your situation and evaluate whether you have a gambling addiction. For example, you might have a gambling addiction if you’ve ever gambled away bill or food money. Read The National Council on Problem Gambling’s 10 Questions About Gambling to see if you may have a problem with gambling.
Cut off your source of funding. If you’ve been gambling with credit cards, close them. Normally, closing a credit card isn’t a good thing for your credit score. However, if closing your credit cards keeps you from creating more debt, then that’s what you need to do. You can put a freeze on your credit report to make it harder to open new credit card or loan accounts. You’ll have to unfreeze your credit report to open any type of account that requires a credit check.
Realize that more gambling is not going to solve the problem. Many gamblers think they can win enough money to pay back the debts, but quite the opposite happens. You only end up creating more gambling debt to repay. And even if you actually did win enough money to pay off your debt, chances are you would gamble that money away too, thinking if you won once you could win again.
Get treatment for your gambling addiction. Your health insurance provider may pay for treatment for gambling addiction. Check with your insurance provider to see what options are available. Some states will even cover the cost if insurance doesn’t pay for it. Your state Consumer Affairs Office may have more information about state programs for gambling addictions.
Paying Off Gambling Debt
Once you deal with the addiction, then you can focus on the debt. Start by writing out a list of everyone you owe. Some of your gambling debt may be on credit cards. You may have overdrafted bank accounts. Or, you may even owe casinos. Put all the debts you can think of on the list. If you learn of new gambling debts, add them to the list. The key is to know who and how much you owe so you can take action.
If you owe bookies or loan sharks, you may have to borrow money from a friend or family member to pay the gambling debt, especially if you’re being threatened to pay up soon. Borrowing money from a loved one probably means you’ll have to ‘fess up to your gambling problem, but in return you may gain a support system to help deal with the addiction once and for all.
You could sell valuable assets and use them to pay off your gambling debt. That’s if you haven’t already sold them to get more money for gambling. Furniture, electronics, jewelry, even your car are all things you could sell to pay off your gambling debt.
Get a second job to help pay off your debt. Working a several extra hours each week can help you come up with more money than if you depended solely on your primary source of income. If you can’t find a job, you may have a money-making hobby that you could turn into small part-time business.
Your creditors may be willing to accept a settlement payment on your gambling debts, if you can come up with a percentage of what you owe within a few days.
Gambling debt, including debt incurred from casinos or charged on credit cards and loans, can be discharged in bankruptcy. It’s important to know that any creditor can object to the bankruptcy filing by claiming you incurred the debt under false pretenses or through fraud. For example, if you took out a credit card cash advance knowing you didn’t have the money to repay the advance when you borrowed it, the creditor can ask the court not to discharge the debt. However, the creditor has to prove that you actually committed fraud. Bankruptcy may be your only option for dealing with gambling debt.