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How to manage gambling debt: tips and tricks

Published by Niki | November 15, 2021

Managing gambling debt can be a scary place to find yourself. From needing to find a way to repay the debt to understanding how to handle a gambling problem, there’s a lot to consider for playing responsibly.

It may not be a comfortable place to find yourself but gambling debt doesn’t have to be the end of the world. And you’re definitely not alone in dealing with it. From casino debts to credit card debt, loan debt, and even home equity debt, gambling debt tends to grow and grow.

The most important factor to remember is that gambling, whether online or at a land-based casino, should be all about fun. However, if you already have gambling debt to deal with, read our guide for more insights, tips, and tricks.

How to manage gambling debt: tips and tricks

What is gambling debt?

Whether you’re a casual gambler or a regular bettor, you may be wondering what gambling debt really is or if it’s something that affects you.

Any time you use money that you don’t have in your bank account and you now owe, you’re in debt. If you use that cash to pay for your gambling habits, no matter how casual they may be, you’re in gambling debt.

Did you know? Almost 85% of all adults in the United States have gambled at least once in their lifetime. More than 15% of adults in the US gamble on a weekly basis. - Debt.org

Credit cards, personal loans, or banking overdrafts are all ways to wrack up debt when used to finance gambling. Being in gambling debt could also mean missing paying rent or car payments in order to use the money you owe to gamble instead.

Of course, this is always a bad idea but if you’ve found yourself in this predicament, don’t beat yourself up. There’s always a way to right a wrong!

Kick gambling addiction to the curb

Gambling addiction is the main cause of gambling debt. Yes, there are casual players who slip up and spend more than they should. But the main reason for overspending, or spending cash you don’t have, is gambling addiction.

If you want to know more about gambling responsibly or if you’re concerned that you may be playing too much, take a look at our Play Safe Guide for more information.

Establishing that you have a gambling problem is the very first step to kicking that addiction to the curb. Here are a few tips to help you on your way but always remember to reach out to a professional.

    • Know the difference between winning and losing – It may seem silly but winnings are only measured based on what you’ve won while playing. Even if you find yourself winning while playing but you log off with less than what you started, you’ve lost.
    • Quit gambling – Self exclude yourself, close your casino accounts, and block access to gambling sites via your ISP if possible. Distance yourself from gambling in every way.
    • Stop spending – If you need to hand over your credit cards to a trusted family member or contact your bank to put a stop on your accounts, do what you can to stop any possible overspending in the future.
    • Talk to someone you trust – Contacting a professional to help you with your mental health is very important. It can also help to have a trusted person you can lean on when you feel yourself starting to slip. It's important to address your mental health issue.

Now that you have a few parameters in place, it’s time to tackle the debt that has been accumulated while gambling.

Did you know? The gambling losses of compulsive gamblers lead to bankruptcy for more than 20% of them.

6 tips for tackling gambling debt

Knowing that you have gambling debt to deal with can be overwhelming and that’s a normal feeling. There’s no reason to beat yourself up or feel like your life is ending. Instead, make a plan to tackle the debt before it gets out of control. Even when it feels overwhelming, the power is in your hands to make a change.

No matter how it occurs, debt is debt. Whether that debt occurs from too much gambling or you spent more on a car than you can afford, debt can be managed if you get ahead of it.

Here are 6 ways you can deal with gambling debt and put yourself in a better position to move on from that debt.

Tip 1 – List your debts

Make a list of how much you owe and who you owe it to. Writing down a physical list of casinos, bookies, banks, loan sharks, bank accounts with overdrafts in place, or friends and family you’ve borrowed money from means you have a list to work through. Make sure that you add the amounts you owe each one accurately to avoid falling even deeper into debt without meaning to do so.

Tip 2 – Create a budget

If you don’t already work off of a budget each month, this can make a big difference in how you see your finances. If you have a lot of physical cash on hand, rather than working with your money online, using envelopes to keep your budget organised can help you see how much money you have left to deal with every month. Just like when gambling, sticking to the budget you create is vital! Don’t let yourself switch it up on a whim. This will only create more issues in the months to come.

Tip 3 – Pay, pay, pay

Start paying off each company or person on your list as much as you can. This may mean cutting the rest of your budget down to as much as possible but paying off everyone the full amount as quickly as possible is key. If you’re able to do that without drastic measures, then great. However, if you need to sell off extras in your home that you’re not using, that can help you reach your goal even quicker.

Tip 4 – Stay consistent

If you’ve reached an agreement with the bank or bookie to pay off your debt, be sure to stay consistent with your payments. The worst possible thing you can do is skip payments or underpay on the agreed amount. This puts more pressure on you going forward and could mean that the companies you owe money to could take a legal route in order to get their cash.

Tip 5 – Consider consolidation

If you’re struggling to pay off your gambling debt and manage the rest of your budget efficiently, you may need to consider consolidating your debt. Banks and consolidation companies are very open to helping make this a reality. You will need to provide written proof of all the money you owe, how much you earn and then allow the consolidation company or bank to handle your debts for you. This means you’ll pay them a single large amount each month instead of making smaller payments to a number of different companies. Often, the company handling your consolidation will be able to negotiate smaller payments per month (or overall) to help you pay off your debts faster.

Tip 6 – Find extra work

It may not be easy if you’re already working a 9 to 5 but finding a side hustle or second job could make all the difference to paying off your debts quickly. Using all of the funds you receive from your second job can alleviate the pressure on your current budget.

Rules for playing responsibly

As with any form of entertainment, knowing how to play responsibly when gambling online is crucial. Starting with a licensed and regulated online casino means you’ll be in good hands and there should be responsible gambling measures in place before you even sign up for an account.

Read our guide on How to check if you are playing at a legal online casino for more information.

Did you know? Approximately 90% of people who deal with gambling addiction have withdrawn cash advances from their credit cards in order to gamble. Be responsible - Avoid using your credit card to gamble. - Debt.org

If you’re ready to start dabbling in the online gambling world again, remember to make good choices and keep in mind the debt you’ve managed to pay off.

Always creating a budget consisting of money that you can afford to lose is step number one. Once you have that simple rule in place, you can avoid gambling debt entirely.

Knowing when to stop is another important rule. Once you’ve capped your budget (or Lady Luck is simply not on your side), it’s time to stop and move on. Try playing again another day or decide to stop entirely if you’re no longer feeling comfortable. Never chasing a “win” means you’re already a winner.

Using the responsible gambling tools in place is a great way to make sure that you’re playing within your means. Set deposit and loss limits, take time outs, and self exclude if you want to stop playing for good. The choice is in your hands!


Finally, know the signs. As someone who has already gone head to head with gambling debt, you know the warning signs when you’ve gone too far. If that’s the case, contact customer support and have them suspend your account until further notice.

Making the best choice for you and your bank account is better than dealing with years of gambling debt instead. Don’t let the debt get you down – you’ve got this!

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