Gambling Doesn’t Discriminate
5th April 2017
Former Welsh International Footballer, John Hartson, recently spoke to Creditfix about his personal debt and gambling problems in the hope others with similar problems get help.
Creditfix Blogger, Alan McIntosh, looks at how gambling doesn’t discriminate and can afflict people from all occupations and backgrounds, but explains how help is available.
John Hartson’s gambling problems may now be in the past, but at their worse, he admitted owing between three and four hundred thousand pounds.
“Physically”, at the time, he said, he couldn’t “…pay any more”.
It’s difficult to believe, but at his lowest point, gambling and debt reduced this successful sportsperson to the same position that many with debt find themselves: dreading phone calls or the sound of the postman dropping a bill through their letterbox. As John admitted at the time, his outgoings were just too high and he was being “hassled” by those he owed money to.
As John said “Gambling…is a disease that doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor.”
With the benefit of hindsight, some of us can look at our lives and the mistakes we have made and reflect on what we should have done: but, for most of us, it takes time and we often struggle to admit to ourselves our problems, never mind share them with others. For a public figure to do that takes courage, particularly when they are recovering from what John himself described as an “illness”.
You can see the interview with John below:
The Modern Dangers of Gambling
In today’s world, there is no shortage of opportunities to have a flutter: from scratch cards, to lottery tickets to placing online bets using mobile phone apps; in that environment, it’s all too easy to become complacent about the dangers.
The dangers, however, are real and the connection between both gambling and unmanageable debt is well established. Sometimes the relationship between both is even described as contradictory: with those struggling with unmanageable debt gambling in the hope it can provide a quick solution to their problems, but it then only creates more unmanageable debt and leads to more problem gambling.
The problem is once people begin borrowing, this can often be the beginning of a debt problem emerging. First it may be credit cards and overdrafts they use, before moving onto high interest payday lenders and borrowing from family and friends. When things get really bad they may start using money that they should have used for essential bills.
Gamcare, the leading National Provider of advice and support on gambling, states in the last 4 weeks nearly 50% of all adults in the UK will have gambled, with nearly 20% of people (1 in 5) gambling online. With personal debt levels on the rise, the dangers are obvious.
Why have we chosen John Hartson to become a Creditfix Ambassador?
In working with John Hartson as an Ambassador, the message Creditfix wants to get out is gambling can become a serious illness and can impact on people’s finances, their relationships, employment and even family.
We want people to realise that unmanageable debt must be managed properly and gambling is not a self-help remedy that can be used, but often is a sign that someone is struggling with unmanageable debts.
There is no easy solution to address gambling as an illness, but if a comprehensive approach is taken, it can be tackled. John Hartson admitted he has not gambled in 6 years, demonstrating he has not only dealt with his debt problems, but also the underlying problems that created them.
How do you know when your gambling is becoming a problem?
Most people will know themselves when their gambling has become a problem, but there are some easy questions you can ask yourself:
- When you gamble, do you often spend longer gambling than you intended?
- Do you lose track of time when you gamble?
- Do you gamble when you should be doing something else?
- Do you sometimes gamble to try and win money back?
- Do you borrow to fund your gambling?
- Do you lie to others about your gambling?
If your answer to more than one of these questions is yes, your gambling may have begun to become a problem and it might be time to seek help.
Four steps you can take to address your gambling and debt problems.
Here are four steps you can take if you believe you are having gambling and money problems:
- First, use Gamcare’s gambling self-assessment tool, to discover if you have a problem. The tool is free, can be used online and takes 5 minutes.
- Second, if your gambling is becoming a problem, seek advice and support by calling the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 (calls are free).
- Third you may wish to consider using the Multiple Operator Self-Exclusion Scheme operated by the Gambling Commission. This allows you to notify gambling operators that you are having problems and they have a duty to share your information with other gambling outlets to try and exclude you from gambling in the future. Unfortunately, there is no Scheme for online outlets, but work is in progress to develop such a scheme and its hoped it will be in place by 2018.
- Fourth seek advice about what options are available for you to address your money problems. Call Creditfix free on 0808 253 3506