Problem Gambling and Financial Planning Don’t Mix

October 26, 2020
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc.

Did you know that October is Financial Planning Month? Financial planning is vital to reach long-term goals while paying short and long-term expenses, whether working towards a down payment on a new home, saving for your child’s college tuition, or ensuring a more comfortable retirement. This alone isn’t an easy balancing act, and many hire financial advisors for help. It’s pretty easy to see why a gambling problem doesn’t fit into a financial plan. 

However, the impacts reach much further than most realize. Data from contacts to the 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine illustrate the financial pressure placed on those who suffer:

  • The average amount of lifetime gambling losses was reported at $184,153 during the 2019/2020 fiscal year, reflecting a $10,000 increase in gambling-related losses from last year’s data. In addition, average lifetime losses amongst those admitting to committing illegal acts to fund their gambling were $339,592, almost twice as much.
  • This year, half (50%) of HelpLine contacts reported there were household gambling-related debts of some type. Of those reporting debts, the average gambling-related debts this year was $30,715, with almost one third (32%) reporting gambling-related debts of $25,000 or greater and 9% reporting gambling debts of $100,000 or more. 
    • It should also be noted that gambling-related debts are frequently under-reported by problem gamblers, and many loved ones are unaware of the extent to which the gambler is actually indebted.
  • Due to the high volume and dollar amounts of gambling-related debts common amongst those struggling with addiction, amounts of debt common with gambling addiction, it is not surprising to also find that 17% of this year’s HelpLine contacts (up from 15% the prior year) reported that the gambler filed bankruptcy at least once or has a bankruptcy case pending currently as a result of the gambling problem.
  • Further indicative of the seriousness of the financial consequences associated with problematic gambling are the direct impacts on basic needs, such as living expenses like rent, mortgage, and utility payments, with 2% of gamblers seeking help this year advising they were homeless due to their gambling, and 24% were staying with someone (such as family or friends) due to the gambling.
  • Not surprisingly, given the large debts, a large percentage of problem gamblers are reported to have difficulty paying household bills (67%), have gambled and lost their savings (65%), and sold or pawned possessions (50% reflecting a 7% increase from last year’s data).[1]
[IMAGE] Problem Gambling and Financial Planning Don’t Mix

While this immense financial stress seems inescapable to the gambler and their loved ones, hope for a better future can be found when individuals reach out through the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine. Gambling addiction is treatable. Financial planning can only begin after starting on the journey to recovery.

The FCCG’s 24-hour confidential and multilingual HelpLine may be reached by calling 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321) 978-0555, emailing fccg@gamblinghelp.org, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or by reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

[1]  24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report., 2020 ed., The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc., 2020, 24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report.