Gambling has gone on to become a popular leisure activity in the United Kingdom. With the emergence of online casinos and betting websites, individuals can conveniently stake money for a chance at winning money from the comfort of their own homes.
As most winnings from gambling are tax-free, it has led to a surge in the number of people using it not only for entertainment but also as a profession (think poker). All this raises some serious and understandable concerns about how such activities could impact one’s credit score.
This is because numerous anecdotes abound about individuals being denied loans, mortgages, and insurance due to their gambling habits. But does gambling really have any impact on a player’s credit score at all? Let’s find out.
- Your credit score determines your creditworthiness; the higher it is the more likely the chances of your credit application getting accepted by lenders.
- Gambling doesn’t affect your credit score directly, but, it might, indirectly.
- Gambling transactions and bank gambling blocks do not specifically show up on your credit report.
- Lenders will look for problem gambling habits to decide whether or not to accept your credit application.
- Lenders detect problem gambling by analysing bank statements and transactions via open banking.
- You can prevent gambling-related debt by excluding yourself from credit using a Notice of Correction (NOC).
- The NOC of one party in a joint account does not affect the other party.
- A spouse’s gambling debts impact the partner’s credit score.
- A family member cannot check a gambler’s credit score unless authorised by them.
- A debt solution reflects in the credit report, but the specific plan or arrangement doesn’t.
- Debt solutions negatively impact your credit score.
First things first…
What Is a Credit Score?
Essentially, a credit score is a numerical rating that represents your creditworthiness. It has a significant impact on various aspects of your financial life, which is why maintaining a healthy score is crucial.
This rating is based on an analysis of your credit history and ongoing financial circumstances, including borrowing habits and other personal information. When you apply for credit, a lender considers the following information:
- Details from the UK electoral registers
- Details of court judgments or bankruptcies filed
- Record of current financial commitments (credit cards, loans, mortgages)
- Record of financial commitments made in the past 6 years (credit cards, loans, mortgages)
- Details of searches on the credit file
- Details of current account management cross-checked with credit reference agencies
This data enables lenders to evaluate how responsible you are with your finances and helps them make informed decisions about lending money to you without unnecessary risks.
In the UK, a credit score is measured on a scale of 0 to 999 (Experian) or 0 to 1000 (Equifax), or 0-710 (TransUnion). The higher the score, the higher the chances of an individual or organisation being accepted for a credit application.
A credit score of 881 and up on Experian or 438 and up on Equifax or 628 and up on TransUnion is considered good. Long story short, your credit score is important!
Are Gambling Transactions Visible On a Credit Report?
Nope. Your credit report only measures your ability to repay loans. It doesn't contain details of how you choose to spend your money. It does not reveal anything about your purchase history, including what you bought and where.
Therefore, engaging in gambling activities, by itself, will not have a direct impact on your credit report or credit score. However, reviewing this report can provide lenders with an insight into what your financial situation currently looks like. This, in turn, will influence their decision of lending you money.
It's worth noting that while gambling transactions are not reflected in your credit report, they will still appear in your bank statements. Lenders may review the same while assessing your eligibility for a loan.
By the same token, loan issuers may also request access to your current account transactions through open banking to see how your credit application weighs up.
Prospective lenders may be accepting of occasional gambling activities in your transaction history. But if you are frequently making large transactions to gambling sites instead of paying off your debts or bills, it may raise red flags.
While you may choose to create a separate account for gambling payments, this does not guarantee complete discretion. If gambling is something you're considering, it's important to do so responsibly and without negatively impacting your ability to manage your finances.
Do Bank Gambling Blocks Appear on a Credit Report?
Bank gambling blocks (also known as merchant code blocking), if used, do not appear on your credit report. Only the concerned bank is aware that you have opted to prevent transactions to gambling merchants.
When Is Gambling Seen as a Risk of Default?
When it comes to credit scores, gambling in and of itself is not seen as a risk of default. However, like any other hobby, gambling can become a problem if it leads to irresponsible spending and addiction.
If you gamble within your means and budget, there should be no negative impact on your credit score. As already discussed, this score and the report primarily focus on your borrowing habits and how you manage your finances.
Although it shows no traces of gambling, lenders are likely to seek more information about you to minimise their risk. If gambling becomes a habit that causes you to exceed your overdraft limit or borrow more money than you can afford, they might consider it a risk of default and turn down your credit application.
How Do Lenders Detect the Gambling Activity of Potential Borrowers?
When a credit report doesn’t even display gambling, how does a lender know if the potential borrower engages in it? Well, multiple factors help them spot the same.
As already mentioned, it is common for lenders to request to review your bank statements or an open banking connection to your current account when you seek credit. Typically, when applying for a mortgage, lenders may ask for up to six months of bank statements to assess your financial behaviour.
This is aside from the interview conducted to examine your spending habits. In such cases, if the statements reveal a pattern of frequent transactions at casinos or bookmakers, this may raise concerns for the lender. Such activity could be viewed as a sign of financial irresponsibility.
An even bigger issue is applicants borrowing money to fund gambling payments. Whether it's done through a credit card, personal loan, or payday loan, it would generally be considered a foretoken of problems that could arise once the credit is approved.
Even if you regularly transfer your gambling winnings back into your account, it may not have a positive impact on the lender’s decision.
So, if you have plans to obtain substantial financing, such as a mortgage or car loan, it may be wise to minimise or temporarily abstain from gambling activities to keep your bank statements clean.
What Does This Mean for Professional Gamblers Seeking a Loan or Mortgage?
Professional gamblers might have a hard time getting a loan or mortgage due to the unpredictable nature of their income. Lenders tend to prefer a predictable source of income such as a stable stream of salary, so they may not accept gambling income.
However, some lenders have their own criteria for approving mortgages for gamblers, so it may be possible to find a lender that accepts gambling transactions. Seeking advice from a mortgage broker can help improve the chances of finding a suitable lender.
Impact of Credit Cards on Your Credit Score
The UKGC has put a ban on credit cards for gambling since April 14, 2020. Past credit card payments to gambling businesses are unidentifiable in your credit report, and gambling businesses are no longer allowed to receive credit card payments for bets.
Nonetheless, there are still ways to indirectly use a credit card to fund gambling, such as transferring money from a credit card to a current account and then to a gambling site or using a credit card for daily expenses and then using cash for gambling.
Withdrawing cash from a credit card, regardless of its purpose, is noted as a ‘cash advance’ on your credit report. It may impact your credit score negatively along with obliging you to pay additional fees and interest rates.
Funding gambling using credit can result in severe financial consequences, especially if you face negative equity, as you will still need to repay the full amount.
If you need to transfer your balance to a new credit card, avoid applying for multiple credit cards, as they will be categorised as cash advances in your credit file and may harm your credit score.
If you're battling a gambling addiction and worried about being approved for credit, you can protect yourself by adding a Notice of Correction (NOC) to your credit report. It is a statement that requests lenders not to offer you further credit, even if you seek it.
The NOC will be visible to all lenders checking your credit report and they must comply. However, keep in mind that an application for credit with a NOC is not automatically accepted and will be reviewed first.
Additionally, you will need to register a separate NOC with each of the three main UK CRAs: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Taking these steps can help you avoid the financial difficulties, unpaid debts, and legal consequences that can arise from funding gambling with credit.
Will a Spouse’s Gambling Debts Impact the Partner’s Credit Score?
When you have joint credit agreements with your spouse who is a gambler, understand that both of you are responsible for the debts. This means that if your spouse fails to make payments, you will be held accountable for paying the entire outstanding balance.
Additionally, if you had previously applied for joint credit with someone who has a poor credit score, their credit report may be checked by the lender which could potentially affect the outcome of your own credit application.
On the other hand, if you don't have any joint accounts, there is a process called ‘financial disassociation' that you can use to remove the financial association.
This involves getting the association removed from each of the three credit reference agencies if it is no longer relevant (for instance, when there are no existing joint credit accounts). Doing this will help ensure that your credit score and report are not adversely affected by another’s gambling habits.
Does NOC on Joint Accounts Impact the Other Party?
If you share a joint account with someone and add a Notice of Correction (NOC) to your credit report, the other person will not be impacted by it.
The NOC will not appear on their credit report, and they will not be informed of its existence. If the other person applies for credit, your NOC is very unlikely to affect how their application is perceived by lenders.
Does a Soft Credit Check by GamStop Affect Your Credit Report?
When undergoing an identity verification process with GamStop, you may come across the term ‘soft credit check.’ Know that it does not reflect on your credit file. Only hard searches typically associated with credit applications can be viewed by lenders.
Soft searches are used for a variety of purposes, such as identity verification, and are only visible to you for a period of up to one year. You do not need to worry about any negative impact on your credit score because of that.
Can a Family Member Check a Gambler's Credit Report?
If you're a family member of a gambler and want to access their credit report, you need to obtain a third-party mandate to manage their finances.
Attempting to access their credit report without authorization can be considered a violation of their privacy. To let you gain access to their credit report, the gambler needs to provide you with signed permission that you can send to all three CRAs.
Does a Debt Solution Reflect in a Credit Report?
UK problem gamblers who are struggling with debt can seek debt solutions such as debt management plans (DMPs), individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), debt relief orders, administration orders, debt consolidation, or bankruptcy, to do away with outstanding obligations.
These solutions are designed to help individuals repay their debts in a manageable way, depending on their financial situation. But such a settlement typically leaves a negative footprint on the credit score.
The debt solutions remain visible on the credit report for several years, although the specific plans or arrangements will never be reflected as such. Nevertheless, it will impact the credit rating, which could make it difficult to apply for credit in the future.
What's the Waiting Period for a Mortgage Application After Quitting Gambling?
The waiting period for applying for a mortgage after overcoming a gambling addiction varies based on your credit score. A default account or missed payments on your credit report may make it difficult to secure the best mortgage rates. However, it won't stop you from obtaining credit.
A default remains on your credit report for six years, but its impact fades over time. After a year, missed payments have less of an impact on your credit score, too. You can also receive quotes directly from lenders to gauge your chances of being approved without impacting your credit score.
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Credit Score for Gamblers
- Practice responsible gambling habits, such as setting limits on time and money spent.
- Use cash as your primary method of payment for offline gambling activities.
- Only gamble with money you can afford to lose without causing financial harm.
- Seek professional help if you experience signs of gambling addiction or compulsive behavior.
- Avoid borrowing money to fund your gambling activities, as this can quickly lead to financial distress.
- Do not apply for credit jointly with someone who has a history of irresponsible gambling behavior.
- Refrain from using credit to indirectly fund your gambling, such as through cash advances or balance transfers.
- Wait until your bank statements reflect responsible financial habits before applying for a mortgage, to avoid being declined due to gambling-related expenses.