One thing there is no shortage of on the internet is opportunities to gamble. We are spoilt for choice, whether your fancy is for betting on sports, playing virtual card games or bingo. One of the things that makes internet gambling so potentially dangerous is that it is easily available for 24 hours a day. The real danger comes when you combine this factor with the fact that it is so easy to feel detached from the reality of money spent online. Gradually racking up a debt online does not feel the same as handing over hard earned cash from our wallet, so it is that much easier to lose track of how your online spending is mounting up.
For these reasons, debt problems from internet gambling are on the increase. In this article I hope to clarify some of the legal issues around online gambling, as well as providing some advice on dealing with the underlying problem and the debts that result from it.
Legal Issues Around Gambling Debts
When we talk about debt from online gambling it is important to be clear about the nature of the debt, because who the money is owed to does make a difference. People are often unsure about the legality of debts from online gambling. In the UK you can gamble legally on credit and incur a debt, but this debt is not then enforceable through the law.
However, there is an important point to make here, which is that this only applies when you are using credit extended by the company offering the gambling (casino, bookie, etc). If you use a credit card company to pay for internet gambling, that is a legally enforceable debt the same as it would be in any other circumstance, because you have borrowed money from the credit card company, not the casino. It is now against the law in the US to use a credit card to pay for online gambling.
You will find that many credit cards will regard a payment to an internet gambling website as a cash advance. This is then clearly borrowing money from the card company and the debt you incur can be pursued through legal action. If you do use a credit card to pay for online gambling this way, you should be aware that cash advances on credit cards are almost always charged at a much higher rate of interest than normal credit for purchases.
How To Deal With Debts Caused By Gambling
In dealing with gambling debts, there are two separate issues to tackle. One is the debt itself, and the other is the habit of gambling that led to the debt. Even if the debt is dealt with, it is likely to build up again if the root cause is not tackled too. Let us first consider the problem of paying off the debt.
The principles for tackling debt are nearly always the same, irrespective of the causes of the debt. To permanently deal with debt you should not be considering borrowing more money or paying anyone to deal with your debt for you. These courses of action are likely to deepen your debt in the long run.
With a little advice, you can deal with your debts yourself, by contacting your creditors and agreeing terms for repayment that you can afford. There is clearly more to it than that, but it is beyond the scope of this particular article. The process is straightforward and allows you to take back control of your finances.
Factors Leading To Internet Gambling Debts
It may help to have an understanding of why some people can become addicted to online gambling. The following are often contributory factors:
Gambling can be thrilling, leading to an adrenalin rush and feelings that we want to recreate time and again.
Many addictive gamblers think that they can win money and that this will solve all their other problems. It actually just leads to more problems by creating debt, which can then make it seem even more important to win the money, creating a vicious circle.
Addiction to gambling can actually be a mental disorder, which can lead to a compulsive need to gamble.
Being addicted to online gambling is often associated with other personal difficulties, including depression and stress.
Online Gambling Debts – The Warning Signs You may have a problem if you can answer yes to any of the following questions:
When you are not gambling, do you think about gambling and how you are going to get back to it?
Have you ever missed work because of online gambling?
Do you feel the need to gamble again after winning or losing?
Is the length of time you spend on gambling getting longer and have you ever spent longer online than you thought you had?
Are you secretive about your gambling with family or friends and do you dislike other people bringing it up?
Practical Steps To Tackle Online Gambling Addiction If you think you may have a problem with online gambling, here are a few simple steps you can take to begin to reduce or stop the habit:
Be open with friends and family and seek help with the problem.
Cancel any accounts you have with websites for online gambling.
Consider using software that blocks your access to online gambling websites.
Keep a proper, ongoing record of everything you spend – take steps to bring home the fact that the money you are using is real.
K D Garrow has worked as a senior manager for the last twenty years, with responsibility for significant financial control. His website offers free advice on paying off debt, including information on how to deal with online gambling debts. The site includes recommendations for the best debt management companies and advice on how to write off debt.