I am trying to take control of my 28 year old son's finances. Usual story of lies and excessive gambling, tricking family members unaware of his problems into helping with spurious problems and agreeing to not tell us in case we were disappointed in him, swearing on my life, his mum's life and his grandmother's life he wasn't gambling etc etc. Has used the full range of weapons to destroy himself and his relationship with his family. Apart from the obvious need to seek support from counselling, I would welcome some practical ways I can control his day-to-day money, allowing him to live, buy food, pay for petrol etc. and restrict opportunities to gamble of course.
I have his bank card and have changed pin so in theory I control his account where his salary is paid into. He tells me it is possible to walk into a branch and show a driver's licence and say card lost and they will give him money a couple of times a month if he has ID. I will see any transactions of course but surely there must be a way around this e.g. open an account in my name only and give him some sort of card with a limit on it to allow him to have cash for essentials. Anybody got any ideas as to most effective solution?
He has self-excluded himself from individual sites and more generally on Gamstop but he tells me that there are ways around it. Soooo many sites around the world that he can always find ones that will allow him in. The problem is access to funding so surely if I control the source of funds he can't link up his bank account and move money? He could set up a new bank account I know but how would he fund it (assuming we shut off supply from friends and family)? Can he set up some new loan or funding stream without linking his bank account and get a card or an app to use it until he maxes out? If so how do I stop this? Again any thoughts or suggestions welcome.
Lastly, is there a way to stop him accessing money from loan companies, possibly through a separate bank account he could set up? Something that self-excludes from loan companies I guess is what I mean
My wife and I are desperate to take full control but to allow him some dignity to help him through treatment but it seems that gamblers have learned to be so devious and resourceful that we wonder if this is pointless as inevitably he will find a way around any mechanism we put in place.
Thanks in advance for any help.
Hi... I am a compulsive gambler. Iv'e been through long stretches gamble free but the last 2 or 3 years iv'e struggled. The thing is, when all is said and done, your son's gambling is HIS problem to deal with or not as the case maybe. As you suggest your son will always find ways to gamble if he really wants to gamble. On the one hand its kind of positive that he is actually telling you some of the ways he could get around the practical measures you have put in place but then on the other its kind of like handing his problem over to you and allowing you to take control and try and sort him out. Long term it doesn't work in my opinion.... its like are you prepared to spend the rest of your days controlling and monitoring your son's finances?
My suggestion is that yes it kind of makes sense (in the short term) that when your son's salary hits his account, that you are on the spot to make sure that your son does pay what needs to be paid. As a parent i'd imagine you want to make sure that your son has a roof over his head and food in his stomach. having said that my mum took a hard line and said "if you chose to gamble until you are hungry or homeless then I would be sad, but it would have been your choice"... this was after several bailouts hadn't worked.
The trouble is, you could become so involved in tracking your son's actions and behaviour that you end up living your own life through your son. I mean i am in my 40's now and my family have long since given up trying to stop me gambling or bailing me out. I know that if I get into trouble because of my gambling then its down to me to dig myself out and in a way its kind of empowering. When I gamble i don't gamble right down to the last penny because i want to eat, it wasn't always this way. Do you see the point am trying to make? Compulsive gamblers, me very much included, need to take ownership of our problem and enjoy the self-esteem boost when we start to over come it.... but it is largely down to us. Gambling addiction isn't a great deal different to that of a class A drug addiction. Similar principles of recovery apply. Allow your son to take the lead and ask for help and protect your own finances and any valuables.
I hope something here helps. I am not a parent by the way so in that sense I can't help. All the best
Thanks for that really helpful insight. You are right of course. We can do everything to protect him while we are a live but after that I suspect he will crash and burn repeatedly unless he truly accepts this as a sickness and he seeks to arrest or control its progress now. My wife and I are already quite emotionally drained and damaged and can't envisage a time when we will ever be truly happy again.
Sorry to hear about your troubles. Does he want to stop gambling? I sense a conflict in your writing between you two which I can relate to. I used to have issues like this with my parents who helped me when I was so far down in the dirt that I did not think I would get out of it again. That is why I am asking. Does he want to stop? If not you will find it becomes a cat and mouse game of deceptions and lies that are just as damaging for you as it is for him. As a parent you are co-addicted and the money he can cheat himself to will keep things going until there is nothing left but broken hearts. I would go and see a family counsellor who can mediate between you and who can also bring the topic to the surface. He may be walking around thinking that he is just one win away from solving everything and that is counterproductive to any kind of healing. The first part of change is needing and wanting to change so bad that it has to change. That may fit in well with you as parents but it needs to be on his mind as well so do make sure you find out where he is in this so you may get the progress you so well deserve.
The counsellors here are very good at pointing you to where you should go to get help in your area.
Best of luck!
Thanks. He is at rock bottom and aware of the hurt and pain he has caused. He says in his head there was no difference between a £10 bet and a £200 bet. The red mist comes down and he excludes everything and everyone. He says he truly wants to stop an he understands he must take control. We can help with managing access to his self-medication but he knows he must probably now attend counselling for the rest of his life. He says 'anything' when we talk about it. Words are cheap. It's action that counts of course. One problem we have to resolve is who to tell. We kept it close last time so he went wider to manipulate unknowing friends and family. They know now so the circle is growing. Should we go wider and shut down access and hopefully generate more support of course, but in doing so he feels even more ashamed as so many people will think how weak and stupid he has been. Will this hold him back?
If the problem is lending I would tell everyone so that he knows he can not use that to gamble further. Yes, it feels bad letting the friends know but owing money that can not be paid is worse so don't go there if you can avoid it. It took me a long time to find a shrink that could get through to me. I was just resisting everyone as I had not stopped gambling in my mind. Gambling is a lot of garbled thoughts that need to be sorted so CBT/ NLP and hypnosis are the ones that have worked best for my mind. Preferably someone who has had plenty of experience with gambling addicts and can see when they are getting through or not. Any questions you may have along the way please feel free to ask.
I would tell anyone who might be used as a source of funds. That way if he does try to manipulate them into giving him cash at least they are going into it with their eyes open. Many of us will have found that keeping a gambler's secrets doesn't end well.
You can keep track of attempts to open new bank accounts or take loans on the sly with access to his credit reports. Credit Karma, Clearscore and Experian through MSE's credit club cover all three agencies and are free. I think if you take the monthly subscription offer from Experian direct it also offers alerts as soon as anything changes but I've never used this so not entirely sure. Also not all lenders report to every agency. A CIFAS registration may delay credit applications but again I've never used this so don't know how effective it is. You could also add a notice of correction stating he does not wish to be offered or extended any credit facilities. Infuriatingly in the UK there's no option to put a freeze on credit applications so these are the best solutions I found.
I wouldn't recommend allowing him access to unaccounted for cash. A tenner a week 'for coffeee' was enough to keep the fires burning for Mr L and the upshot of that was a doubling of the debt he'd been bailed out of once. If your son wants cash you need to see receipts to the penny. If he's vague about where it's gone be wary.
Dignity is a nice notion but he can't be trusted around money. He's broken your trust time and again. If he's serious about stopping part of that is accepting the consequences to his actions and not asking or expecting you to trust him. Mr L can use the joint account at will but he will never have unscrutinised access to the finances again.