This is a guest post from GamCare who provide information, advice, and support for anyone affected by gambling harms.
GamCare operates the National Gambling Helpline, with Advisers available for free 24/7 by phone and online chat. We also provide treatment in all regions across England, Scotland and Wales, and support against gambling-related financial harm, through our Money Guidance Service and Gambling Related Financial Harm programme.
Last year, about three-quarters of people contacting the National Gambling Helpline reported having financial difficulties, with two-thirds in debt.
Gambling can affect your finances in several ways and doesn’t only affect the gambler; it can affect friends and family too. Someone struggling to control their gambling might borrow money they can’t afford to pay back – often at high-interest rates – or gamble with money that was intended for household bills.
Here are our top tips on taking control of your spending and gambling.
1. Taking control of your gambling spend
Many people we hear from want to stop gambling, whereas others just want to reduce their gambling spend.
A complete break is usually the best option to take control of your gambling. However, if you prefer to reduce your gambling spend and stick to a limit, whatever your goal, there are tools you can use to help you get there.
In partnership with Gamban blocking software and the GAMSTOP self-exclusion scheme, we offer TalkBanStop, which combines practical tools and support to help you to stop gambling and maintain a successful recovery journey. One of its users said:
“It gives you the stonewall you need, that you’ve got to have in order to stop and then you can start doing the work on why you did it and what the real problems are behind it.”
Additionally, most UK banks offer free gambling bank blocks.
Read this factsheet for more tips and tools on how to control your gambling spend.
2. Tracking your spending
One of the first ways to get in control of your finances is to understand and track your spending. People we speak to through our Money Guidance Service say that using spending apps or spending diaries helps them clarify where their money goes.
Read this factsheet for tips and tools on tracking your spending online or on paper.
3. Protecting your loved ones
Your gambling doesn’t just affect you; it can also have consequences for your friends and family (including your children). It can affect many things, including their finances, health and relationships.
Many of the gamblers we speak to are concerned about the impact their gambling has on the people around them. They want to put things in place to protect their loved ones’ finances and control their own gambling.
Read this factsheet for tips on protecting your loved ones, with practical examples.
4. For family and friends – keeping your finances safe
Friends and family often discover that someone has been gambling when things have reached a crisis point. It may be that the person gambling has run up debts (sometimes in a friend’s or relative’s name), is behind on essential household bills and expenses or may have spent joint savings.
If you are concerned about someone else’s gambling, you can contact GamCare for advice and support. This factsheet has more information – it looks at managing your own money and supporting the gambler in your life.
5. Debt advice and support
If you are struggling with debt, getting free debt advice as soon as possible is important. Pressures and worries about debts can make it harder to budget and can also trigger gambling.
Contact a free debt advice organisation if you are worried about your debts, including problems with loan sharks.
Help and support is available 24/7. Visit the GamCare website or call the National Gambling Helpline for free at 0808 8020 133.
Debt Camel adds:
Once your gambling is under control, you may be able to improve your finances by winning affordability complaints. See Gambling – get refunds from loans, credit cards & overdrafts for details about this.