19 July 2023
Gambling and your access to credit
Another day, another loan application refused on the grounds of “problem gambling.”
“Hello this is Louise, one of the Loans Officers from ANSAC Credit Union. I’m ringing to let you know that unfortunately, you’ve failed our loans stress test and that we won’t be able to issue you with a loan.”
The typical response to which, by the member in question, is a resigned sigh. With bank and Revolut statements littered with payments to Betting365, PaddyPowerOnline and William Hill to name a few, even they’ve to admit they’re a bad bet.
“As a cooperative financial institution, it’s our members’ savings that we’re lending to other members. And we simply cannot, as a responsible organisation, be so reckless as to lend to someone presenting with a compulsive gambling habit.” Says Gillian Dunne, CEO of ANSAC Credit Union. “And we certainly don’t want to enable a vulnerable member to sink themselves into debt.” She adds.
A bit of flutter is ok
It’s not the individuals who bet €15 when they get paid each week that we’ve to habitually refuse to grant loans to. It’s those who’ve developed self-destructive habits frittering away a significant portion of their wages each month. Or those who have lost significant lump sums they might have had in their savings.
While research indicates that “problem gambling” doesn’t discriminate across social classes or age groups, for ANSAC, more often than not, it’s young males, who are mortgage free, living in their parent’s home who are refused loans due to the amount they’re gambling each month.
“We’ve had members come to us who are spending the majority of their wages each month on gambling. And others who’ve burned through substantial lump sums they’ve had in savings” Says Gillian. “And while those within addiction support services describe gambling as the “hidden addiction” it’s something you can’t conceal when it comes to looking for credit whether it’s a mortgage, credit card or car loan you’re applying for.”
How to find out the impact on your credit rating
ANSAC advises that anyone concerned about the knock-on effects gambling has had on their credit rating, can make an application for it on The Central Credit Register (CCR) website Continue your application (centralcreditregister.ie) and order their credit report for a nominal amount to see what information prospective lenders can access about their credit history. Three types of identification documents will be requested when applying for your credit report:
- photo with signature (such as passport or driving licence)
- proof of your address (must be no more than 6 months old)
- proof of your PPSN
How it’ll affect your future mortgage application
If you’re planning to apply for a mortgage in the near future, a gambling hobby will be a major red flag to borrowers. With such a significant amount of money on the line, mortgage providers will closely examine your risk profile and carry out an affordability assessment. They’ll look at your income, fixed financial commitments and your other spending habits. If they spot regular gambling activity in your bank or Revolut statements, you’re not likely to be perceived as a financially responsible applicant. And that’s it, the mortgage application is declined. Not something anyone trying to get on to the already challenging property ladder ever wants to hear.
A county-wide epidemic
And it’s not only at ANSAC where the extent of gambling in Ireland can be felt.
According to a report published by The Health Research Board in February of 2021, gambling problems still affect the lives of 135,000 people in Ireland with varying degrees of severity.
It is also highlighted that men are five times more likely than women to be at-risk gamblers and that it is more prevalent among those in disadvantaged communities, those with addiction issues and mental health problems. Furthermore, their report also shares findings that many have difficulty perceiving their own gambling problems and recalling how much they spend.
The forms of gambling most associated with problem gambling, according to this report, are interactive online gambling (e.g. online poker and casino games), casino gambling, and electronic gaming machines (i.e. slot machines).
Supports for Defence Force Personnel
According to a GambleAware report published back in 2011, fewer than 1% of people who at the time would have benefitted from problem gambling treatment actually received it. A figure which is all the more alarming when considered against the backdrop of the statistic that 1 in 5 pathological gamblers attempt suicide, more than double the rate among those who suffer other addictions.
Those who acknowledge they need help themselves, or are seeking advice in relation to another individual, can contact their local Personnel Support Service at any time where they can get access to their trained, non-judgemental addiction counsellors in complete confidence.
Alternatively, those preferring support from outside The Defence Forces, may consider the following resources:
Gambling Care: https://www.gamblingcare.ie
Addiction Counsellors of Ireland: http://www.addictioncounsellors.ie/
Gamblers Anonymous: www.gamblersanonymous.ie
“While you might feel you’re unable to stop, or don’t want to admit how bad things have gotten, gambling is a highly treatable condition.” Advise the two PSOs consulted by ANSAC. “We encourage anyone who may have been affected by this article to look for professional help be it through ourselves or through a reputable external organisation.”