For National Financial Literacy Month, Let’s Talk About the Crippling Debt That Can Result from Problem Gambling
It is no secret that problem gambling can lead to financial problems. According to Debt.org, 85% of adults in the United States have gambled at least once in their life, and some 23 million Americans go into debt because of gambling.  Those suffering from a gambling addiction have become desensitized to taking financial risks and continue to wager without considering the far-reaching consequences in order to stay “in the action” or to escape other problems. Because of this, the gambler’s family is often at the mercy of their addiction.
Over the past year, half (50%) of those contacting Florida’s 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine reported there were household gambling related debts of some type, nineteen percent (19%) did not know if there were gambling debts, and thirteen percent (13%) refused to respond to this question. Of those reporting debts, the average gambling related debts this year was $30,715, with almost one third (32%) reporting gambling-related debts of $25,000 or greater, with 9% reporting gambling debts of $100,000 or more. It should also be noted that gambling-related debts are frequently under-reported by problem gamblers and many loved ones are unaware the extent to which the gambler is actually indebted. 
Due to the high volume and dollar amounts of gambling related debts common amongst those struggling with addiction, amounts of debt common with gambling addiction, it is not surprising to also find that 17% of last year’s HelpLine contacts (up from 15% the prior year) reported that the gambler filed bankruptcy at least once or has a bankruptcy case pending currently as a result of the gambling problem. Further indicative of the seriousness of the financial consequences associated with problematic gambling, are the direct impacts on basic needs, such as living expenses like rent, mortgage, and utility payments, with 2% of gamblers seeking help this year advising they were homeless due to their gambling, and 24% were staying with someone (such as family or friends) due to the gambling. 
Not surprisingly, given the large debts, a large percentage of problem gamblers are reported to have difficulty paying household bills (67%), have gambled and lost their savings (65%), and sold or pawned possessions (50%). It is not hard to imagine how an average of 8-10 other people are affected for every case of problem gambling.
This Financial Literacy Month, take the chance to teach youth in your life about what it means to gamble, the risks involved, and why it’s an age-restricted activity. Financial literacy is important, because it provides the knowledge and skills to manage money effectively.  Understanding the importance of budgeting expenses and saving money will benefit anyone in the long run and can help reduce the risk of developing a gambling problem down the road.
For anyone suffering from the financial impacts of problem gambling, help and hope can be found through FCCG’s 24/7 Confidential and Multilingual 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine. The HelpLine can also be reached by texting 321-978-0555, starting a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, emailing email@example.com, and messaging the FCCG on social media. Get connected to the resources that make a difference, including referrals to certified treatment providers!
 Gambling and debt – problems & compulsive behavior. (2020, July 22). Retrieved April 16, 2021, from https://www.debt.org/advice/gambling/
 Compiled from FY 2019-2020 Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine data (2021). The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.
 Literacy, T., & Miller, J. (2020, September 14). The importance of financial literacy. Retrieved April 16, 2021, from https://cardancapital.com/2020/09/10/the-importance-of-financial-literacy/