From buying a Lotto ticket to a work sweepstake on the Grand National, it's not uncommon for many people to indulge in the odd bit of gambling. But a problem gambling habit can be bad for your finances.
As today's £7.8million fine for an online gambling firm showed, vulnerable gamblers can quickly rack up debts – one customer bet more than £1.3million over 13 months.
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Even far more moderate gamblers will bet more than they can afford, getting into a worse situation as they try to chase losses. And sometimes being in problem debt can prompt people to turn to gambling in the hope of 'winning' their way out of the situation – but it just makes matters worse.
But often they come hand in hand – meaning you need to get help with both at the same time to really solve the problems. It might mean turning to two separate sources of help.
If you just focus on your debts and ignore the gambling addiction, then you might find yourself back in a similar position before long. But if you don't deal with the debts at the same time it might be hard to resist the temptation to not gamble if the debts are spiralling out of control.
Get help with your debts
The best thing you can do to fix debt worries is to talk to someone experienced in helping people in your situation. Don't pay for this. There are many free and independent debt advisors who will treat everything you say in confidence, then help you find the ways to deal with your debts.
It's easy to find someone to help. This could be near where you live, or you could talk to someone over the phone or on webchat. The Money Advice Service Debt Advice Locator does exactly what it sounds like. You can enter your post code and choose between the options.
Get help with your gambling problems
Gambling doesn't just affect your finances, it can impact on your mental health and your relationships with friends, family and your workplace. But breaking the habit is unlikely to be easy.
Gambing awareness charity GamCare suggests a few ways to help you stop your gambling habits:
- Avoid situations and people that might make you gamble
- Take up alternative activities that could keep you busy and plan your time
- Ask betting shops, casinos and arcades to bar you
- Block gambling websites on your computer and phone
GamCare also has a helpline you can call to talk through the options, which can include counselling. Call Freephone 0808 8020 133 from 8am till midnight, seven days a week.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.