At regular intervals, information comes out that the debt has increased in young people or the like. There is a lot of talk about the reasons why it has become so and debt is laid for example at games / casino and the like. But I ask myself – how much should one really put the blame on when such people are responsible for themselves and their finances?
Quite recently, the new figures from the Prosecution Service on debt restructuring showed this type of figures. Apparently more than ever have applied for debt relief. In the first half of 2019, it was 10,900 people who submitted the application, which is 15 percent more than last year for the same period and also 4 percent more than 2017, which was a new record.
Apparently, quite a few of the applicants did so because of their large gambling debts
This was also an increasing trend in young people. More young people fall into the debt trap and one of the reasons for it is said to be precisely that they waste money and incur gambling debts.
However, I would like to point out that the Crown Prosecution Service seems to deny many of those who have gambling debts, for one important aspect is that they have changed their behavior and that means that they have to stop playing and get away from these bad habits before a debt settlement can be granted.
When the statistics came out, many people commented that young people’s indebtedness has increased and that gaming / casino is one of the major culprits. It is quite easy to point fingers and say that the gaming industry is the reason why young people get poor finances and large debts, given that they have long had a bad reputation.
Although I myself do not play anything at all and do not immediately like or am interested in this type of game, I can, however, in a sense want to defend them. Playing at the casino / betting is an active choice. Something you do because you want to, not because you are forced to. Certainly, gaming addiction is considered a disease and it is not easy for everyone to refrain from playing, but somewhere you still take the first steps on your own.
We all have to take responsibility for our own choices and how we spend our money
To automatically shift the blame on someone else, for example the gaming industry, is to let young people (and of course some who are older also for that matter) escape their own responsibility. We are all responsible for ourselves, our choices and our finances. We make decisions, make money based on what we have for jobs and income or do away with money depending on what we buy and treat ourselves.
If I buy a large amount of electronics and gadgets for expensive money (which is easily done) then I have obviously put myself in the shit if I have taken a loan for this or if I have spent all my salary and all the savings. I’ve done away with it. I have spent money I do not have or should have spent.
If I am wasting money on the casino / betting then I have made the same type of choice. I have chosen to spend the money on something. If I spend more than I can afford and get rid of money that should have gone to other things, I have acted in a stupid and irresponsible way. This regardless of whether there can be an underlying dependency somewhere.
If you do not want to place the responsibility on the individual, then any vendor or manufacturer would have the blame for someone spending money on their products. If I lost $ 3,000 on the pub last month, is it the fault of the pub that I decided to go there and party? Do they owe it to me that I barely got it this month for spending too much?
If you are doubtful, the answer is no. They offer a service that you can choose to take part in or not. This applies to a wide variety of products and services. You can smoke if you want, but we all know today that it is extremely unhealthy and expensive in addition. Cigarettes are sold, but it’s up to you if you want to take the risk and spend your money on buying them. Casino games are no exception.
Focus on the right things – young people need to be better
I think there will be a little wrong focus when presenting figures that debt restructuring is increasing for young people and that it is more common that the debts are due to gambling and betting. When these figures come in, I want to focus on the fact that young people to a greater extent appear to have poor behavior and worse control of their finances.
I want to emphasize that it is important to teach them more about finances and to take responsibility for their own finances. Understanding what their actions mean and what happens when you spend and consume in different ways.
That they understand liabilities, interest rates and indebtedness and what risks there are with taking a credit. Maybe you also get a better understanding of gambling and betting, the risks involved with gambling and that it is usually very difficult to make money on games in the long run.
What I do not want to focus on is that casino games would be the ugly culprit that lures young people’s money even though they are good and responsible. Nobody puts your hand in your pocket and takes your money. You spend them voluntarily. Even when it comes to games. It’s all about understanding the risk, understanding what you can afford to spend and not, and understanding the consequences this will have on your finances in the long run.
Shifting over debt and shifting focus on online casinos etc is not productive and prevents us from seeing the real problems. And thus also to focus on the right solutions.
Educate young people better in finance – making a real budget, understanding interest rates, understanding debt and credit and their impact on your finances, savings and investments and finally being able to spend within what you can afford.
Some want to ban casino games completely or at least advertising for casino games. Although I am very tired of game advertising, I cannot say that I want to ban it completely. Personally, I don’t see anything interesting in playing, but I still think the choice is up to everyone. Everyone should be able to choose whether or not to play.
Some can play moderately and think it’s fun, even if they don’t make a profit. It is money for pleasure simply. Much like paying for a fishing license, Spotify, or drinking some beer on the weekend. You should expect the money to be lost. But they can have value in the pleasure you have when playing.
The problem is not that it is possible to play, but that there are so many people who do not have any idea how much they spend or think about what it will mean. Better controls at the gaming companies and faster action when someone seems to have problems with their gambling are obviously good, but then focus on this and on teaching people to take better care of their money rather than it is generally bad with games.