Does Gambling Affect Your Credit Score?
Gambling is not quite what it was ten years ago. What was once considered a little suspicious is now a common pastime, often with quite a friendly face thanks to youthful casino brands like Griffon Casino and exciting bingo brands like BetVictor Bingo.
These days, people are more open to the idea of gambling as a hobby, especially with it being available on mobile and having many of the features of video gaming.
However, there’s no getting around the fact that it has a serious side. Many players worry that gambling will affect their credit score, because of the constant flow of payments going out (and hopefully in!) which may suggest to money lenders and other service providers that they’re not trustworthy with money.
Having a low credit score can affect many aspects of life, so it’s only natural that gamblers, or anyone looking to embark on a new project in life, would worry about this.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a measure of how reliable you are as a borrower of money. This is not to be confused with how much personal wealth you have; it’s about how often and well you pay off your debts.
If you have a loan with £200 monthly repayments and you make them all, your credit score goes up! If you fail to meet some, it goes down.
It's not set in stone
Over time your score will change, so a low score isn’t permanent — but nor is a high one.
One of the truly ironic things that catches some people out is that their score may be low, but to make it higher, they need to borrow more money just to prove that they can be relied on to pay it back!
Strive for a high credit score
Also known as a credit rating, the score is given as a number, although different institutions use different scales to measure it, so watch out for this.
Having a higher score is always preferable, as it means you’re a lower risk and eligible for loans from more lenders, from banks to mobile phone contract providers.
A complex mathematical model is used to determine your score and some companies will let you check it for free online.
Factors that can influence your score
Certain factors other than failed repayments can affect your score, including your total debts, credit searches by other companies and public records, like county court judgements.
Your score can be improved by meeting payments, closing unused credit accounts and registering on the electoral roll.
Does gambling affect your credit score?
This matter varies a lot, so it’s hard to give a definitive answer. The fact is that yes, gambling can affect your credit score, but for the vast majority of players, the effect is negligible.
Spending on gambling is a risk factor that makes you less attractive to lenders, because there’s always the risk that you will wager away too much money and not be able to repay your loan. The dangers of gambling addiction make this all too real a possibility.
Additionally, it is often forgotten that a lower credit score can affect your employment opportunities: some companies will use credit card information to help run background checks before hiring. This is even more reason to be wary of your financial activity.
Casual vs professional gamblers
That said, casual gamblers spending less than £100 a month are unlikely to notice any change to their credit score. Ultimately, everyone is allowed leisure spending, so it represents no major risk.
On the other hand, if you’re spending several hundred a month, then lenders may think twice. Professional gamblers will certainly have problems securing a loan, as their income is a matter of chance and seen as unstable.
Having another source of regular, reliable income will help in this situation.
Stay on top
So long as you’re keeping on top of your credit score in other ways, occasional gambling should not cause any issues at all.
However, always be aware that credit checkers have their own criteria for judging your score and lendability so if a loan or mortgage is especially vital to you, it’s worth leaving the gambling for a few months.
After all, you might need the money for other things!
Should I avoid gambling if I have bad credit?
Typically, the answer to this is yes. As stated above, for many players a little casual gambling won’t make much difference, but it’s not wise to risk making your bad credit situation any worse!
Bad credit often goes hand-in-hand with poor finances in general and gambling is not advisable in such circumstances.
When your funds are low, it’s tempting to gamble as a way to get some quick cash — but this is a serious risk and never advisable. Responsible gaming guidelines will always discourage this as it’s a serious potential indicator of a risk of gambling addiction.
On the same front, it’s never advisable to borrow money to fund gambling. This is a very slippery slope which could eventually result in bankruptcy.
This is part of the reason why heavy gamblers find their scores affected; lenders do not want to risk their money by giving it to someone who gambles compulsively. In essence, the lender is gambling on you — so you need to make yourself look like a good bet, not a bad one.
When your credit score is low, rather than gambling, look at some of the above methods for improving it.
It’s probably worth using responsible gaming controls on your usual sites to put limits on your account, or better still, ask for a self-exclusion period to avoid temptation altogether.
Play for free
If you really feel like having a little flutter but don’t want to make a deposit, look out for new sites that offer no deposit bonuses, such as those listed on our review pages.
There are ways to play without spending, including playing games in demo mode on slots sites, taking advantage of welcome bonuses, and checking out free bingo games. Always, always gamble responsibly!