Gambling Small but Viable Problem in Bankruptcy Statistics


Anytime someone goes financially broke, statistics for those filing bankruptcy goes up as well. Very few have dealt with gambling problems as a legitimate source of statistics for having to file for bankruptcy protection. Gambling is a small but viable problem in bankruptcy statistics.


Any Such Thing? (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Reasons Gambling May not be Addressed as Part of Bankruptcy Stats


There are self help institutions, like The National Council on Gambling (NCPG), which
many gamblers seek for their gambling problems. Most self help institutions, like Gambler’s Anonymous, are just that, anonymous. As a result, detailed gambling statistics where gamblers are forced to file for bankruptcy protection because of there debts are more often not reported as such.


More often than not, the reason most gamblers will not reveal their addictions for statistical purposes is because of the shame our American society associates with a gambling addiction. Instead of revealing details about their gambling habits, gamblers tend to hide them.

Another reason gambling statistics that result in filing for bankruptcy protection are hard to come by is that much of the gambling problems today are associated with credit card debt or cash. Some casinos may issue credit, but most gambling casinos operate on cash or through credit cards. This is especially true for online gambling, a growing industry around the world. Since these casinos have not issued personal credit, they will not be listed as creditors during bankruptcy proceedings. Therefore, there are not many statistics to obtain, even in bankruptcy court documents.

Gambling Addiction is a Problem in the U.S. But Not Large Scale


According to statistics provided by the NCPG, research shows that 2-3 percent of the U.S. Population will have a gambling problem in any given
year. That is between 6 to 9 million Americans. Only a fraction of that amount seeks out institutional or self help services.

According to opinion polls, 34 percent of the U.S. Population participated in some type of casino gambling in 2012. To be eligible to gamble in most states, you have to be over 21 years old. People over 21 years old make up a little less than 75 percent of the total population. That means, according to the opinion poll, over 80 million Americans gambled in casinos last year. Having 6 to 9 million of those people as addicted gamblers is not a large scale problem compared to the overall scheme of things.

Making Sense of Gambling Statistics in Relation to Bankruptcy Statistics


For those having a gambling addiction, according to Casino Watch, the average amount of debt in 2011 was reported to be between $63,000 and
$110,000. For those filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011, the average credit card debt was a little under $30,000.

There were a little over 1,221,000 of all types of bankruptcy filed in 2012. Certainly, some of these were caused by some type of gambling addiction. The average person cannot stand to carry around twice as much debt as the average person filing for bankruptcy protection.

Assuming all these statistics provided for this article are in the ball park, it may be a fair assumption to conclude that 2 to 3 percent of those filing for bankruptcy protection in 2012 did so because of a gambling addiction. If true, that means there were between 25 and 35 thousand bankruptcy filers who filed because of a gambling addiction. In the overall scheme of things, the numbers are relatively small compared to the population of the United States, but nevertheless, it is a viable problem.






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