22 October 2018 at 8:07 pm #6450confusedson1Participant
I’ve read a few other threads before joining and I really appreciate how supportive and constructive everyone is. I am reaching out for advice in addressing my father’s gambling addiction. Here’s the tl;dr and further details are included below – we are hoping to get advice and pointers to resources for this situation:
- family consists of two mid-20s children (working) and a mother + father, both unemployed & near retirement with no intentions of finding work
- parents are divorced and living separately, major asset splits settled but other small financial disputes ongoing
- gambling activities stretching ~20 years and mainly consist of daytrading securities and stocks and an unknown amount of casino visits
- father’s financial standing is very shrouded but unlikely to be sustainable; several loans in collections, outstanding debts with family members/acquaintances, credit cards with high balances
- there has never been open, trusting communication between my father and the rest of the family. Thus, most of what I’m detailing below comes from what others have recounted or has been revealed during the divorce
Throughout the 90s to early 2010s, my father had a decent paying job, but much of the earnings never trickled to the family and we had a modest lifestyle. He likely started during the tech bubble in 1999, pouring money into brokerage accounts and incurring cumulative losses in the $X-XXk magnitude from what we know. In the mid-2000s my father pressured my mother to agree to refinancing the mortgage on our house and his losses were revealed then. My mother threatened divorce and my father relented his gambling habits a little bit, but my mother did not follow through to make sure the children were out of the nest first. As the financial crisis hit, my father claimed his reduced earnings meant he had to borrow to support the family, soon reaching almost $100k in revolving credit card debt. Meanwhile, he continued to get on the computer early in the morning for the market opening and keep an eye on NBC money channels, indicating his continued daytrading. He never once talked about his gambling behavior with us and was very defensive/aggressive if it was suggested.
Shortly after I left for college, my mother filed for separation and divorce and my parents sold the house. My father quit his job and hasn’t worked since. He remarried about a year later and moved in with her. I was fairly confused by the relationship as she worked fairly hard to provide for her family while he sat at home daytrading. I assumed she was aware of his activities. After becoming financially independent, my brother’s and my interactions with my dad have been centered around our salaries and money management or whether we can lend/give him some money. When my brother lent money once in the past, my father repaid much later than promised and only after multiple reminders and heated discussion. Within the last year, his requests come under the guise of: “I need to pay rent” and when I let him know I wasn’t handing out any money, it’d be “I’ll pay you back in a few weeks.” I figured why not, so I periodically lent him small fractions of his rent which he eventually paid back each time. His reasoning was that his IRA had unusually long processing times for withdrawals, and he gets defensive whenever I question that process or what his finances look like overall/month-to-month.
Here’s the downward spiral that motivated me to make this post – he and his new wife were either recently evicted from their apartment or were unable to pay rent and forced to move out. I found out when he asked for more money on top of outstanding money I had lent him to cover moving costs. From her, I learned that he exhausted her own savings/emergency fund to her surprise, he had been asking for money from nearly every one of her family members (10+ people who had no idea), and, to add insult to injury, she found casino ATM receipts in his pockets while doing his laundry. I have not spoken to him since he asked for more money, but she is now living with her parents while he is living separately in a cheaper area somewhere.
I have no idea whether my father has burned through his retirement and share of marital assets from the divorce. It would be shocking as that would be a large amount (mid-$XXXk), but the situation seems graver than before and could have escalated to that magnitude. Then there are other observations that make the overall situation seem shady and not straightforward. In court, my mother suspects he still has plenty of money to live and in reserve, but borrows to live as to minimize asset loss and spousal support in the divorce settlements and that he moved elsewhere to escape creditors (he denies this). I do believe that he has taken out multiple personal loans and sustained the outstanding principal by paying some loans with other loans. He carries large amounts of cash around in $100 bills. I get calls from random numbers asking to speak with my father which I assume are collections calls (verified in court for at least one loan), and my father strangely changed his address with the DMV to my address so I get some of his mail.
Whether or not he has any assets remaining, I would expect this cycle of borrowing, gambling, and letting loans going to collections to not be sustainable so the addiction needs to be addressed. My father would never admit to gambling and would profusely and angrily deny it. I’m not particularly fond of my father, but I would like to hear what tips, advice, and other perspectives you might offer for us to consider before he truly hits rock bottom if he hasn’t already.22 October 2018 at 10:41 pm #6451velvetModerator
Thanks for starting a thread in the Gambling Therapy friends and family forum. This forum will provide you with warmth and understanding from your peers.
Feel free to use the friends and family group, you’ll find the times for these if you click on the “Group times” box on our Home page
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Now that you have introduced yourself you’ll find that many of the people you meet here have already read your initial introduction and they’ll welcome you in like an old friend 🙂
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You’ll find a lot of advice on this site, some of which you’ll follow, some you won’t…but that’s ok because only you fully understand your situation and what’s best for you and the people you love. So, take the support you need and leave the advice you don’t because it all comes from a caring, nurturing place 🙂
We look forward to hearing all about you!
The Gambling Therapy Team23 October 2018 at 11:09 pm #6452velvetModerator
I understand why you are saying that your father’s addiction needs to be addressed but sadly it doesn’t seem to be his ‘need’ at the moment, he sees his need as being a need to gamble. It is hard for the non-compulsive gambler to understand but the addiction to gamble is not about money; it is solely about ‘the gamble’
If your father is to control his addiction it is important that he takes responsibility for his debts and his behaviour. In my opinion that includes not using your home as an address for creditors to make contact. I cannot tell you what to do but I suggest informing the DMV that your father does not live at your address. Even though your father has repaid previous debts, enabling a compulsive gambler will only keep the addiction alive and strong. Giving money to a compulsive gambler (CG) or clearing gambling debts is the same as giving a drink to an alcoholic – it feeds the monster within.
As your father still appears to have money in reserve I suggest it might be a good time to tell him that you will never lend him money in the future. Hopefully your brother will do likewise. Maybe you could tell him that you have sought help because you ‘know’ he has a problem even if he is not ready to accept it. Maybe you could download and give him the Gamblers Anonymous 20-questions which can be found on the GA site, sometimes gamblers are unaware that their problem is recognised and that there is help available. In my opinion, your mother’s family should be informed that your father has an addiction and that by giving him any money as a gift, or a loan, they are feeding a manipulative, divisive, destructive addiction that will get worse if it is not treated.
Many F&F have used intervention methods to bring home to the gambler the extent of the damage they are wreaking. Faced possibly with you, your mother, brother and relatives, expressing concern en masse he ‘may’ feel that perhaps he is not behaving as he should. However, I am a little concerned that you seem unsure of the scale of your father’s gambling. I feel that if you are to confront him you will need hard evidence or he will simply deny his problem.
As I said earlier the addiction to gamble is divisive and families can be torn apart so please make sure that if you go down the intervention route that you are all agreed on what it is that you want to say and what outcome you are looking for with your father.
Maybe you could investigate local GA groups and/or dedicated addiction counsellors for him. This site is available for him; we have a terrific one-to-one Helpline. It isn’t enough just to say ‘stop gambling’, many CGs do not know they have a recognised problem, they often do not believe that anybody can help them and they don’t know where to get help, Many are simply afraid that they will not know what to do without their addiction,
Please keep posting, read the forums and maybe try our Helpline yourself.
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