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Financial Consequences

Richard*, a successful, 45-year old corporate executive, began gambling to deal with boredom and loneliness after his marriage ended abruptly in divorce. His healthy financial condition enabled him to gamble for many years with seemingly little consequence. Over time, however, the money ran out, the credit ran up, the house went into foreclosure and his depression accelerated. His financial, emotional and physical health deteriorated along with his work performance. After losing everything he had worked over 20 years to earn, the company decided to let him go but provided him with a substantial severance pay which he quickly lost through continued gambling. (*Not his real name)

Financial issues are often the first outward sign of a gambling problem. When gambling becomes uncontrollable, the problem gambler will spend even more money, attempting and usually failing, to win back their losses. Here are some of the financial consequences that may occur:

  • Overdue bills
  • Maxed out credit cards / Denial of credit
  • Always short of money, despite adequate income
  • Cannot provide for basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
  • Relies on borrowing money from friends, family or coworkers
  • Develops a pattern of extremely high-risk investing or frequent trading
  • Money is pulled from home equity, savings, investment or retirement accounts
  • Household and personal items are pawned or sold for cash
  • Frequent, multiple payday loans or cash-advances
  • Property is repossessed
  • Home is in foreclosure

Many problem gamblers believe that money is both the cause of, and the solution to their problems, so they continue to gamble in spite of the losses, believing they can fix all the problems with just one more ‘big win’. Sadly, there can never be a big enough ‘win’ to solve the problem of the addiction, because it is an emotional illness, not a financial one.

For this reason, the real solution is for the gambler to deal with their addiction, not just the money problems it creates. Treatment and support resources can help the gambler stop gambling, and with abstinence from gambling, the stress from financial pressures will begin to be relieved. Long term solutions will require hard work, debt repayment and careful planning but the finances of a problem gambler and their family can recover over time.

To learn more about dealing with the financial impact of problem gambling, please read:
Financial Strategies for the Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers