Financial Literacy Month: How Problem Gambling Can Lead to Debt

Problem gambling can cause severe disruptions to an individual’s social, familial, and professional life. Gambling becomes a problem when their gambling causes him or her problems in their life. The risk of problems increases when more time and money are spent by an individual on gambling. The type of harm caused spans the realm of mental health harm, social harm, and financial harm.

Often overlooked, despite it being no secret, is that problem gambling can put an individual in debilitating debt, exacerbating the problems that arise from problem gambling. When financial risks become a normal part of life, an individual becomes desensitized to the consequences gambling activities can bring upon them and their loved ones. 


Gambling often dwindles down an individual’s savings account or that of his or her family. However, once the savings are gone, the individual may not stop gambling. This is where debilitating debt begins. This is due to the individual gambler feeling an increasing need for the rush from risking valuables on gambling. It’s not the winning that a person with a gambling problem is seeking, but the high that comes with the chance of possibilities. 

Problem gambling is often not a financial choice, but a mental health problem as people spend more money and time chasing the high from the chance involved. However, the financial repercussions of gambling are often extremely serious, impacting financial stability and interpersonal relationships.

Financial education can reduce problem gambling. Financial literacy is the ability to understand how to budget and use that budget to make financial decisions. Educating individuals on financial literacy can help with a the piece of the problem that is specific to money management. Although gambling is a brain disease/disorder, financial literacy can help prevent gambling problems and support individuals and families in treatment and recovery to begin managing their gambling debts.

Employing methods to increase and improve financial literacy can help prevent gambling problems in our community members. This could be through the education system for children or free programs for adults that did not benefit from financial education as a child. An increase in financial literacy can help our society make responsible decisions with their money and more informed decisions on how to best manage their money. This may help reduce the risk of problem gambling.

For help with problem gambling and continued resources to aid in understanding financial literacy and gambling disorder in New York State, utilize the resources at

Filed under: Blog

Author: Charles Robinson