Help with gambling and debt

If you’re looking for help with gambling and debt, then you’re in the right place. At PayPlan, we work closely with leading charity GamCare to help people who have been affected by problem gambling and financial hardship.

The links between gambling problems and financial difficulty are huge. Year on year, at least 70% of callers to the National Gambling Helpline have some level of gambling debt. Not only that, but around a quarter of callers said that gambling was the main cause of their financial problems.

In this gambling toolkit, you’ll find…

When is gambling a problem?

Not all gambling will lead to debt, of course. But, like many things – gambling comes in different shapes and sizes – and it can be highly addictive.

Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, putting a bet on your favourite football team or playing in an online casino – many people will have experienced some form of gambling in their lives. Yet, when the fun stops, it may be hard to know when or how to stop. If this sounds like you, go to the gambling self-help toolkit to put barriers in place between you and gambling organisations.

In October 2019, GamCare brought together organisations from banking, debt advice, gambling treatment services and the gambling industry to form an advisory group. This group, which includes PayPlan’s Vulnerable Client Manager, Emma Gibbons, has developed a new self-help toolkit to help people who are suffering financial hardship due to gambling.

Signs that your gambling is out of control. You… 

are behind with bills or repayments due to gambling

want to stop gambling, but don’t know how

find gambling is done in secret or you’re not being honest about your activity

have started to feel ashamed about your gambling

think about your finances is making you feel overwhelmed or stressed

always trying to win back the money you’ve lost

Signs someone else’s gambling is out of control. They… 

may be having numerous sleepless nights or their sleeping pattern has changed 

no longer feel comfortable opening letters, looking at bills or checking their bank account has changed

have extreme highs and lows in their behaviour

want to change the subject quickly if you try to speak about gambling, or money

have unexplained requests to borrow large amounts of money

are continuously behind with bills or payments and no longer feel comfortable to talk about money

Ready to take control of gambling?

Jump down to gambling blocks – take back control to put blocks in place between you and gambling.

Gambling and debt toolkit

Did you know that seven out of ten people who contact the National Gambling Helpline report being in debt as a result of their gambling? And, the longer you gamble, the more you’re likely to lose.

You may be using overdrafts, credit cards, payday loans or borrowing from friends and family to get by or pay back what you owe.

If you have multiple debts and are struggling to make repayments, seek advice as soon as possible. One of the main phrases we hear from our clients is that they wish they hadn’t buried their head in the sand. The sooner you get in touch, the quicker we can take a weight off your shoulders.

Gambling is not a way to make money

Although gambling may seem like the answer to money problems, the chances of a big win are so small that it should not be viewed as a reliable way to make money.

Not only could you be spending a large proportion of your hard-earned money on gambling without any return, but it could also land you in huge debt.

Many people borrow money to gamble or can be tempted to spend savings or their assets. Once in a game, you may be tempted to spend more of your hard-earned cash – which was earmarked for bills, rent or food – just to try and win some back.

Even if you are not a gambler yourself, you may find yourself in debt through lending money to someone who has now gambled it away.

Not talking about gambling can make it worse

We know that gambling can negatively affect your relationships, finances, cause housing or job loss and mental health issues. And, this may be worse if you are dealing with this on your own; telling a trusted family member or friend can really help.

Talking to someone about your gambling takes courage, but it is worth it.

“At first it seemed harmless, and I didn’t see myself cross the line into addiction – it felt like it wasn’t real. But in the first six months I was already £10,000 in debt and I was borrowing more and more money on credit cards to keep gambling.”

“Even though I didn’t have any money coming in, I kept gambling – I was convinced that I could win the money back, and I was living on hardly anything.”

Who should I tell if I’m gambling and in debt?

Whether you’re worried about your own, or a loved one’s gambling, there’s lots of support available.

  • Family and friends are a great place to go for emotional support and building a support network. This support network will be a huge part of recovery so is great to involve them as soon as you feel ready.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to the professionals in your life, too. This includes organisations you already are in contact with like your bank, GP, Employee Assistance Programme support line if you have one. The earlier they know, the better, and the more support they can provide.
  • Reach out to advice organisations. At PayPlan, our advisers can help you to take control of household finances and organisations like GamCare can support you with your relationship with gambling.

Support organisations

  • GamCare provides a peer support network through the forum and chatrooms.
  • Gamblers Anonymous if you do not feel like you have anyone close to you who you can talk to then please get in touch with a confidential support group.
  • National Gambling Helpline advisers are available 24/7 on Freephone 0808 8020.

How PayPlan can help you with gambling and debt

Seeking professional debt advice will help you to gain back control of your finances. At PayPlan, we understand the impact that problem gambling can have on yours and your loved-one’s lives. We’re not here to judge, we’re here to support you and find the best way forward.

When you get in touch with us, you can choose to speak to one of our experts over the phone or through a digital channel such as Live Chat or email – whatever suits you. We’ll help you to work out what money you have coming in, and what you need to pay for. From that, we’ll tell you about all of the debt solutions that are available for you – and advise you on which may be the most suitable for your situation.

Gambling blocks

Take control of your gambling by putting blocks in place. Depending on your relationship with gambling, you may need one or a combination of the tools. But remember, the more friction you have in place between you and gambling, the more successful you will be at controlling it.

Gambling and debt blocking software

You can ask your mobile phone or interactive TV provider to limit or block your access to gambling services.

On your phone – search for blocking software in the App Store or on the Android Market. Some of these programmes are free, while you need to pay for others – so choose carefully.

iPhone or iPad – use the inbuilt parental blocker to stop you accessing gambling-related content. You’ll need someone else to set the password for you, so it’s important to consider how you might behave towards them in the moment, and make sure they’re happy to take on that responsibility.

Your internet provider – ask them to opt you out of all adult sites or supply you with anti-virus software that lets you block certain areas such as gambling.

Gambling and debt treatment and support

GamCare – operates the National Gambling Helpline and offers confidential information, advice and support for anyone harmed by gambling (including family and friends) across England, Scotland and Wales.

Advisers can provide information about, or refer you to, other important support services and your conversation is completely confidential

Samaritans – will listen and chat through whatever you need to talk about, judgement-free. Call them for free on 116 123, or go online.

Mind provides advice and support for anyone experiencing problems with mental health, plus access to a range of resources and services

Gambling and debt self exclusion

Self-excluding can be done from all types of gambling, either in a physical venue or online.

One route is to ask the gambling business directly to stop you from gambling with them. This usually lasts for between six months to five years.

Alternatively, you can arrange exclusion from one of the below multi-operator self-exclusion schemes:

GAMSTOP – exclude you from all online gambling companies who are licensed in the UK.
The Multi Operator Self-exclusion Scheme – for betting shops in Great Britain.
SENSE – the national self-exclusion programme for land-based casinos.
The Bingo Association – exclude from all bingo halls.
BACTA – self-exclusion for arcades.
Gambling toolkit blocks through your bank

Gambling blocks, also known as spending controls, are offered by a number of banks and building societies. They give you the option to block gambling transactions via your banking accounts.

Visit GamCare’s website for the most up to date information on which banks are offering blocks and how to access them.

Remember, no matter the provider, gambling transactions on credit cards are now banned in Great Britain.

Lloyds Banking Group are also working with blocking software provider gamban to offer their customers a free three-month licence for the software. Customers can register through ‘Help with Gambling’ pages accessed via the Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and MBNA websites.

What’s the industry doing to help you with gambling and debt?

In October 2019, GamCare brought together organisations from banking, debt advice, gambling treatment services and the gambling industry to form an advisory group.

This group, which includes PayPlan’s Vulnerable Client Manager, Emma Gibbons, has developed the new self-help toolkit on this page to help people who are suffering financial hardship due to gambling.

Help is available if you need it

If gambling is negatively affecting you or someone close to you, there is hope.

You can make positive changes in your life and feel the benefit. Free support and treatment are available for gamblers and their loved ones. Most people who complete a course of treatment say it brought about positive change to their gambling situation and improved their wellbeing.

Find out more about our support for vulnerable clients. Alternatively, if you work in the advice or creditor sectors then take a look at our expert training courses to support vulnerable clients.

Go to the Financial Wellbeing Hub