People with gambling problems and addiction often find themselves embroiled in deep gambling debt. Gambling debt often goes beyond money owed to the casino, bookie or however else one gambles – People often go as far as taking out second mortgages on their home, taking out additional lines of credit, even putting up money which has been put aside for retirement or education. If you know someone experiencing crippling gambling debt, or are worried about your own gambling debt, below are some tips to help you recover.
Treat the addiction.
The first course of action is to stop gambling. The fact that it’s an addiction makes this difficult, because there is a psychological mechanism at work that can’t simply be turned off at the drop of a hat. Speak to a gambling counselling professional. These services are free and readily available. Tell them to be honest. It can be surprising how much we deceive ourselves when ignoring a problem, and even more surprising how evident it is to those around us.
Cut off your funding.
If you’ve been gambling using a credit card, it might be time to close that card. If your gambling money comes from cash that you set aside from your income, have a GIC set up that auto-debits that cash every time you are payed and keeps it secure in a long-term, high interest account that you can’t touch.
You cannot gamble your debts away.
A common, last ditch justification that many problem gamblers give themselves for continued gambling is that they are doing it just to raise enough money to pay of their existing debts. This is the exact mentality on which casinos thrive. The cycle that problem gamblers are caught up in, even if they were to win enough money to pay back their debts, is that they will simply keep gambling it away time and time again. If gambling has put you into a financially tight situation, the only solution is to quit.
There are programs that can help you quit. There are publically funded addictions treatment available across Canada. You can also consider signing yourself up for self-exclusion through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming commission. By signing up, people are committing to stay out of casino, and to not play any OLG games. Gaming sites have face recognition technology that will identify you and prevent you from participating. You can choose to sign up for exclusion for six months, one year, or indefinitely.
Paying off your debt.
Paying off your debt means compiling a list of all the people and institutions you owe and systematically crossing them off. Pay back the loans that charge you the highest interest first and work your way down. Create a schedule for debt repayment and stick to it. It is also a good idea to look for a new hobby, or new source of fulfillment while you are doing this, so that once the money is paid off, you can begin a new with a different, more healthy past time.
Recovering from gambling debt can be a long process, both emotionally and financially, but with the right people around you, a dedication to turning your life around and some healthy introspection, you can get out of gambling debt, and back in the green and be ready to write a new chapter of your life.