Problem gambling often causes serious financial problems including considerable debt and possible bankruptcy. It can be disastrous for the family’s finances and it may be necessary for the non-gambler to take control of the finances. You need to ensure that your own finances and credit are not at risk.

First, you will have to assess your financial situation which may be difficult since problem gamblers often have difficulty being completely honest about their debts. They may be worried that you will reject them completely if you learn the whole truth and it may require them to admit to past lies they may have told you to conceal the extent of their gambling.

The person with the gambling problem is responsible for helping to solve the financial problems and it is best to work on these problems together. Even if the person who gambles does not co-operate, you still have the right to protect your family’s money.

Here are some tips which may help you to protect your personal finances:

  • Open a separate bank account and remove your name from shared credit cards and joint bank accounts
  • Request your bank cut off access to credit and not to allow your home to be remortgaged
  • Cancel any overdrafts on bank accounts
  • Maintain a detailed budget to monitor income, expenses and debts
  • Manage the family finances; take the gambler’s credit cards away and give the person a daily or weekly allowance to cover basic expenses
  • Pay all bills yourself
  • Monitor your mail and discard all applications for credit cards, loans, or financing
  • Never pay a gambler’s debts—it will only enable them to continue gambling
  • Ask family, friends and co-workers not to lend the gambler money
  • Seek professional help, whether for your personal finances or moral support
  • Get legal advice so you know your rights and how to legally protect your finances. A legal advisor can help you sort out which debts you share (e.g. co-signed loans) and which you do not.
  • Do not allow access to debit or credit cards and do not share the PINS or passwords for them
  • Do not leave money or credit cards where they can be found
  • Keep valuable items such as jewelry in a safety deposit box
  • If there is a lot of debt and you are being contacted by creditors, arrange to see a credit counsellor. A credit counsellor can help you manage your debt, set up payment plans, and set a family budget.

Be sure to visit our website for further information and services available in Saskatchewan for Problem Gambling.