It's the Grand National this weekend, and it's a British institution. Even those who would never normally go near a bookmaker consider placing a bet or joining the office sweepstake for one day only. However, while for most people it's just a bit of fun, for those who don't have the cash to make a bet, having a little flutter becomes something decidedly more worrying.
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A new study, by gambling news site TheNominant.com, found that an alarming 37% of people would consider taking a payday loan to cover the cost of a Grand National bet if they didn't have the money. It didn't then go on to ask the whether they would need to, but the level of willingness to borrow is worrying in itself.
It's easy to see why people may be tempted to think this is acceptable. Anyone who has had the misfortune of watching daytime television is well aware of the endless cycle of adverts for gambling sites and payday loans. This normalises the idea of both in people's minds, so they believe that borrowing to gamble is normal and acceptable.
However, the whole idea of borrowing money in order to make a bet is worrying. It's usually a clear indicator that someone has developed a problem with gambling. It tends to go hand-in-hand with lying to family and friends.
Gambling forums are awash with personal stories of gamblers who turned to payday loans during their downward spiral. They may be convinced that a quick injection of cash can help them win it all back, but when they lose, the massive interest rates and charges pile even more pressure on them - so they are buried under an even bigger debt problem.
The idea of borrowing for something as uncertain as the Grand National is even more shocking. Given that only seven favourites have won in the last 50 times the Grand National has run, it's clearly not the kind of race where punters can opt for the favourite in an effort to reduce their chances of a loss. It's no wonder that British bookies tend to rake in around £600 million from the Grand National.
Alexander Kostin of TheNominant.com said: "As it's been revealed that many punters are resorting to payday loans to fund their betting habits, it's worth thinking twice before taking a flutter on borrowed money. Although participating and placing a bet is great fun, considering the unpredictability of the Grand National, it's really not worth ending up in a debt spiral for".
What can you do?
So by all means join in with the British institution of betting on the Grand National. If you have cash to spend you can put a couple of pounds on at the bookies. If not, you can run a free sweepstake with the family for a chance to win the biggest portion of pudding at tea time.
If the thought of borrowing in order to gamble flits into your head even briefly, then it's far better to give this British Institution a miss - and to get some help from experts on gambling issues, like GamCare.