Credit card gambling: 'It'll take me 10 years to pay off my debt'

Image source, Getty Images

Years of debt. No money to take a holiday. Mental health problems.

These are just some of the issues affecting people who've gambled online using their credit card, risking cash they don't own in the hope of winning more.

But from 14 April 2020, you won't be able to hop onto a gambling website and bet money on your credit card any more.

The UK gambling commission is banning the use of credit cards in online gambling, so anyone wanting to place a bet or play the slots will need to use their own money to do so.

Culture Minister Helen Whately told the BBC: "Whilst millions gamble responsibly, I have also met people whose lives have been turned upside down by gambling addiction.

"There is clear evidence of harm from consumers betting with money they do not have, so it is absolutely right that we act decisively to protect them."

Here's what three people who have all used credit cards to gamble in the past have to say about the ban.

'It'll take me 10 years to pay off my debts'

When Josh, 27, found himself £600 down after just a few days gambling online using his credit card, he says he did "the worst thing possible."

"I chased the loss, which everyone says not to do, they say stop, don't chase losses, you're always going to be down in the long run," he says.

"But I didn't believe it so I just carried on going. It progressed without me even realising to between £20,000 and £25,000, all on credit cards.

"I feel I'm someone that's more intelligent than that, someone that wouldn't do that. I'm not that person. But I was."

Now, Josh is facing the fact that his debts will have a long-term effect on his life.

"I'm looking at eight to 10 years to pay this off," he says.

"No family holidays, no adventure days out, no real enjoyment other than going to work, being at home and taking the kids out when we can afford it - which is shameful."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
For Josh, betting on his credit card has left him in thousands of pounds of debt

He believes the new law would have stopped him early on, because he would have run out of his own money to gamble with online.

"I think this will stop people from chasing their losses," he says.

"It would have stopped me because I wouldn't have had any money left in the bank. It might not even have begun, because it was just so easy.

"Now I just sit here ashamed, knowing it's going to take a long time but that's my own fault and I've got deal with it.

'The guilt is overwhelming'

Carl* started gambling online around five years ago with money on his credit card.

"I lost control through online slots and games. I initially took out a £2,000 gamble on my credit card," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

It didn't work out and Carl lost that money. "I thought I learned my lesson and then about six months later, I thought I could pay off my loans with gambling, so I took the risk again."

He was gambling with five different credit cards, all of which had a big limit on.

"I won a lot, I've lost a lot, but ultimately, you always hit a rock bottom and you always end up losing the lot," he says.

"I ended up maxing out all the credit cards, taking out additional loans that I'm still paying for this day."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Carl says he won at first but ended up losing much more in the long term

And it wasn't just his bank balances and credit rating that felt the impact of his gambling.

"I never thought I'd deal with mental health issues but it's affected me that way," he says.

"It's the overwhelming guilt that hangs over you every single day with that debt upon your head. You've just got to try and get through that and be strong."

"It's hard to actually pinpoint how much I've lost through the years but it's probably £60,000 plus.

"I've maxed my credit cards out probably three times over, I've consolidated a couple of loans and I think next year, I'm going to have to put all the debts into my mortgage.

"The weight on my shoulders is just too much these days."

'If you haven't got the money, you shouldn't be gambling'

"I've never been a problem gambler but I have used my credit card in the past [to gamble], especially when I know that there's money coming in the following week," says 24-year-old Tom, who didn't expect to get charged by his bank for using his credit card on gambling websites.

"It's like taking cash out on your credit card and you pay additional interest.

"I just think that if you haven't got the money to be gambling, then you shouldn't be gambling at all.

"There needs to be more barriers put in place".

*Name has been changed.

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