Does gambling affect your credit score?

It can affect your finances, but does gambling affect your credit score? Learn how gambling habits indirectly affect credit and how to protect your financial health.
A credit score scale

Here in the UK, gambling is everywhere. Adverts for bookmakers and online casinos plaster everything from social media feeds to your favourite football team’s kits. For some, gambling is simply a frivolous hobby, but without caution, it can become a destructive addiction. In fact, it's estimated that 3.3 million Brits are in debt from gambling. 

Gambling can do damage to your finances and, by extension, your credit score in a hurry if you’re not careful. Here, we’ll highlight how that happens, what you can do to prevent it, and where to go if you need help.

Does gambling affect your credit score?

The short answer is no, not directly at least, nor does it appear in your credit reports. However, the longer (and more accurate) answer is that gambling can impact your credit score through its impact on your overall finances.

To add some clarity, let’s review what does impact your credit score.

  • Your payment history: Whether your payments are on time or late
  • Your credit history: How long you’ve had and successfully managed lines of credit
  • Your credit utilisation ratio: Of all the credit that’s available to you, how much are you using?

Assessed together, these factors offer lenders and banks an understanding of your creditworthiness. So, you can see how gambling won’t have a direct impact on your credit score. But just because betting doesn’t directly impact your credit score doesn’t mean that it has no impact.

Get more information on credit scores, credit building, and debt management.

How does gambling indirectly affect your credit score?

According to a report from the Gambling Commission, 44% of the adult UK population gamble at least once a month. While betting activity won’t show up on your credit report, it can impact your credit score indirectly. Let’s explore how gambling can impact some of the factors influencing your credit score.

  • Your payment history: If you’re short on cash due to gambling, you might fall behind on payments. Missed payments can damage your credit score and be visible on your credit report for as long as six years!
  • Your credit history: Opening new lines of credit can temporarily damage your credit score. If you’re opening numerous lines of credit to cover your gambling, it will damage your credit score.
  • Your credit utilisation ratio: If you gamble and lose, you might be short on cash. While using credit can tide you over until your next payday, using more than 25% of your available credit can indicate that you’re dependent on credit. That’s a red flag for lenders and banks, and it can damage your credit score.

Gambling can affect your applications for credit

While gambling transactions don’t show up on your credit report, they do show up in your bank transactions. That can impact you just as much as it would if it showed up in your credit score. Here’s how:

Imagine you’re applying for a mortgage with your bank. Your bank will assess your credit score, but they’ll also take a look at your transactions to make sure everything is in good shape. If they see gambling, it might be a cause for concern. Small bets here and there might not worry your bank, but larger bets could impact your ability to pay your mortgage on time. As a result, your bank could deny your application for credit based on your gambling activity.

Protect your financial and mental health while gambling

If you choose to gamble, take actions to protect yourself from risk. While problem gamblers make up less than a percent of the UK population, the at-risk population is closer to 1 in 25. Additionally, gambling can put your mental health at risk, potentially causing or worsening stress, anxiety, and depression.

To protect your mental health and financial wellbeing, consider the following best practices: 

  • Set limits: Before you start to gamble, set a concrete limit for how much you will gamble and how long you will play. Once you hit one of those limits, walk away.
  • Don’t chase your losses: Loss aversion is part of human nature. Gambling companies capitalise on this when you chase your losses and end up losing even more. Make sure you can afford to lose the amount you’ve gambled. That way you’ll be less tempted to chase your losses and more comfortable walking away.
  • Take a break: Casinos, both in-person and virtual, are designed to immerse you in the game and help you lose track of time. Taking a break gives you a chance to reset, decide whether continuing is the right thing to do, and make a better decision.
  • Talk to someone: Hiding your gambling can make you feel trapped, especially if it becomes a problem. Having a therapist or mental health professional to talk to can give you guidance on how to manage habitual gambling.

How to get out of debt from gambling

If you’ve accumulated debt from gambling, it can feel like you’re trapped under a mountain. However, consistently following a debt-reduction strategy can help you get out from underneath it. Some popular strategies for getting out of debt include:

  • The avalanche method: With the avalanche method, you focus on making the minimum payment on all debts, and use any spare cash to make additional payments on the debt with the highest interest rate. This saves you money on interest in the long run.
  • The snowball method: With the snowball method, you also make the minimum payment on all debts, and then use any additional funds on the smallest debt regardless of the interest rate. This helps you eliminate items faster.

If you want to learn more about the avalanche and snowball methods, check out our guide on how to get out of debt in the UK.

Alternative solutions to managing debt include balance transfer credit cards and debt consolidation loans. A balance transfer credit card can give you an interest-free opportunity to pay off high-interest debt, and a debt consolidation loan could make your payments more manageable. However, both of these strategies have risks involved, so take the time to understand them both.

Related reads:

Three signs a debt consolidation loan is right for you

What is a balance transfer credit card?

Looking for gambling support?

If you’re struggling with problem gambling, the National Gambling Helpline is available 24 hours a day, every day. Call 0808 8020 133 to speak with an adviser now. You are not alone. Help is available, even through text messaging and live chat.

If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, call 999 right away. Your life and mental health matter, and will be taken seriously by agents on the line.

Own your payments and improve your credit score with Pave

If you’re in debt from gambling or simply want to improve your credit score, the Pave app can help. Pave helps you track upcoming payments so you don’t fall behind or miss payments and damage your credit score further. Plus, Pave reports your timely payments to credit reference agencies, helping you get the credit you deserve.

To join the hundreds of thousands of Brits who started improving their credit scores with Pave, download the app today.

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