Gamblers are dicing with debt

  • One in ten gamers stashes cash on credit cards
  • Eight per cent raid savings to feed habit

Millions of gamblers are playing a dangerous game with 21 per cent of the nation’s monthly gambling funded through debt or by eating into savings, according to shock new research* from

The independent financial comparison website says 13 per cent of gamers can only afford their habit by borrowing money, and a further 8 per cent are using up personal savings.

The figures show that one in three adults – around 14.3 million people – claims to gamble at least once a month, with the average monthly stake around £21.37.

However nearly a million people – three quarters of whom are men – spend between £50 and £150 a month taking on the odds.

The research reveals that the most popular form of borrowing for gamblers is credit cards, followed by overdrafts, personal loans and borrowing from friends and family. Only 68 per cent of gamblers use cash to feed their habit.

Form of borrowing to pay for monthly gambling expenses Proportion of adults who gamble that use method to pay for gambling No. of people
Credit Cards 10% 1,435,000
Personal Savings 8% 1,148,250
Overdraft 2% 287,062
Personal Loan 1% 143,531
Money borrowed from Friends / Family 1% 143,531

Sean Gardner, Chief Executive of, said: "Millions of us enjoy a flutter on the Grand National and play the Lottery every week. But borrowing money to fund a habit like gambling is potentially disastrous – it’ll inevitably lead you down a dangerous spiral of more and more debt.

"Borrowing when there is by definition a real risk you’ll lose the money is a dangerous game to play – whether you win or lose your creditors will want their money back.

"Anyone who is betting using a credit card for example should be extremely wary – if you start to miss repayments it’ll affect your credit rating. It’s very easy to lose track of the money you owe on your credit card, particularly with online gambling."

The research shows online gaming is now the most popular form of gambling in the UK. 44 per cent of gamblers say they use the internet to try their luck. This is followed by the bookies and informal bets with friends.

Where do you gamble? Percentage of gamblers
Online 44%
Bookmakers 19%
Informally with friends 11%
Racecourses (e.g. horse racing) 9%
Casinos 6%
Card rooms 2%
Hotels 2%
Private club 2%
Cruise ships 1%

Sean Gardner added: "If you have wracked up debts through gambling the important thing is not to bury your head in the sand. If you can’t meet repayments it’s always better to tell someone or to seek professional help.

"Credit isn’t a license to print money and you’ll need to decide on a plan to pay the money back. Try to transfer the debt onto a cheap form of borrowing such as a zero per cent credit card. Alternatively, seek out a competitive loan and stick to the repayment plan."

Click through to MoneyExpert for money saving hints and tips

*YouGov interviewed 2,015 GB adults (18+) between 23rd and 25th July 2007 – figures do not include gambling on the lottery or bingo

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