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The Spiral into Debt

16th September 2016

Our guest blogger from debt management agency PayPlan takes a look at how gambling-related debt can take it's toll on gamblers and their loved ones.

Problem gambling or addiction often leads to debt and more often than not people have no idea what to do about it.

Gambling debt reveals two problems: firstly there is the compulsion to gamble, and secondly there is the problem of getting out of the debt hole.

*Harry, 42, had racked up gambling debts of £53,000 when he contacted PayPlan.

He said: “What started as occasionally playing the fruit machines in the pub eventually became more serious. One day I lost £300 in one go. I drove home feeling upset and robbed. By that time I was concerned about the impact this was having on our finances. I felt resentful towards myself. I felt sick when I checked my bank and credit card balances - but I always felt I had to go back and chase that win.”

Harry, who is married with two children, kept the amount of debt he was in from his wife. “She didn’t realise the seriousness of the problem as I looked after all the finances. Day-to-day life was awful. I was distant with my wife and children. I was constantly worried, not knowing who was going to knock on the door, what the post would bring or who would phone. I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t concentrate at work.”

When Harry’s debts reached £53,000 and he couldn’t afford his minimum repayments, he had to explain to his family what was going on. He’d tried to deal with his debts by asking for help from his family, increasing the size of their mortgage and taking out a long-term loan, but he knew he had to seek professional help.

“PayPlan listened to me and wanted to help rather than just lecture me. They made me feel my problems were solvable. I also called GamCare, and knowing they were there was a great support.”

Harry is now paying his debts back in a debt plan, and he has not gambled for the last 18 months.

I now look forward to waking up in the morning. I’m actually living a life, not just going through the motions and it’s made me take stock of what’s really important. I thought I could solve my debt problems myself but I was in too much of a mess and needed professional help. I had two hurdles to overcome – ‘stop gambling’ and ‘sort out my finances’. Thanks to support from GamCare and Payplan, I am back on track.”

PayPlan is one of the UK’s largest providers of free debt advice. As well as offering general debt advice, PayPlan also offers comprehensive guidance on a wide range of practical, long-term debt solutions. For more information, call 0800 280 2816 or visit

Other sources of helpful, free of charge information and advice include:

StepChange Debt Charity: Call 0800 138 1111 or visit

Money Advice Service: Call 0800 138 7777 or visit