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How to get a mortgage if you're a gambler

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By Pete Mugleston  | Mortgage Advisor Pete has been a mortgage advisor for over 10 years, and is regularly cited in both trade and national press.

Updated: 9th March 2020 *

Gambling and mortgage applications generally don’t mix, so getting a mortgage if you gamble can be difficult, as many lenders deem such activity as a high indication of risk, so there is a higher chance of being refused mortgage due to gambling. The most common issues we are asked about are:

  1. How to get a mortgage if you are a professional gambler (using the income), and
  2. Getting a mortgage if you gamble recreationally (not using the income)

There is an important distinction between the two – if the borrower is looking to use gambling income to evidence they can afford the mortgage, this is considered far more risky than just gambling for fun, with income coming from a job or self-employment.

In this article, we’ll be looking at:

  • Mortgages for professional gamblers
  • How betting can influence a mortgage application
  • How much deposit you’ll need
  • Proving income as a gambler
  • How adverse credit may affect your application
  • How recreational gambling can affect your application
  • How to get the right advice

Getting a mortgage as a professional gambler

Professional gambling, by its nature, can be an up and down experience and if the question is, does gambling affect mortgage applications? Then the short answer is, ‘maybe’.  Income can be irregular, unreliable, short one month, and large the next, depending on performance and which particular events / activity is carried out.

It would be rare to see a gambler with a stable monthly income (unless they are perhaps running a regular and consistent method such as matched betting), and for this reason, most lenders don’t accept it in their affordability calculations.

Now, of course there are those of us (most!) that gamble and have a trend for declining profits / negative cash flow over time, who would be extremely unlikely to want to apply for a mortgage using any income from wins anyway. BUT, if one was to try and have the odd one-off win as an acceptable source of income it would not , and thus would need another job if they were to be approved, if at all.

Those with successful record of earning money regularly with an upward trend of income, are much more likely to be deemed a safe bet (pardon the pun) and have this income considered for mortgage purposes.

Typical criteria for gambling income to be accepted by a mortgage lender:

Income stability and betting behaviour

Consistent betting habits and strategy generally produce income with less potential for big swings / losses. A successful and consistent strategy should also increase not decrease income, month by month, and avoid the capacity / tendency for chasing losses.

A borrower with large income one month and low / none the next, even with an upward trend and profit for the year, may be considered much higher risk than someone with consistent flow of income.

Proven record over time

Can gambling stop you getting a mortgage? This depends on a number of factors. Getting a mortgage if you have been gambling for a long time may be more straightforward than for someone who has recently started, if the income has a sustained, positive trend.

Like a self-employed borrower, someone with a longer track record of making money doing the role is considered less risk.

As with any borrower lenders want to see explainable, regular, and recorded income over an extended period to evidence consistency and viability of the income being maintained, to give confidence that the mortgage will be affordable long term.

Types of betting that are more acceptable

The actual type of gambling can have a significant impact on approval, for example: the best winning streak ever on roulette is unlikely to be accepted, but a regular win ratio of online poker tournaments may well be, given that the game is based more on skill or knowledge than luck.

Another example would be use of expert sports knowledge to edge the market, rather than a favourite blackjack or fruit machine strategy!

For these reasons, below are some examples of gambling that may be considered more acceptable for mortgage purposes:

  • Poker (online and face to face)
  • Blackjack
  • Baccarat
  • Horse racing (as regular backer or a owner/trainer)
  • Matched betting
  • Dog racing (owner/trainer)

How betting streaks can impact mortgage approval

The size of bet an applicant places can have an impact on approval; typically, the larger the streak, the more risky the bet. That said, streaks are relative to savings/reserves – someone with £100,000 in the bank betting £1,000 is more likely to be betting within their means than someone with £1,000 going all-in on every bet, regardless of the result. Someone willing to wage everything may not be considered as managing their finances well at all, even if they win every time!

The impact of Loan to value (LTV) on mortgages for gamblers

With most lenders, the higher the deposit / equity (and lower the LTV), the lower the risk. This is because, should the borrower default, they are more likely to get their money back when the property is sold.

How deposit source can impact mortgage approval for a professional gambler

The deposit source is an interesting one – if the lender offers 75% mortgages, it stands to reason they’d feel comfortable lending regardless of the source of the borrowers 25%, as they have reasonable security to recoup money lent.

However, lenders recognise that not every deposit is considered as valuable to the borrower – for instance if it is gifted would the borrower work as hard to maintain repayments and hold on to the property in a time of difficulty, when compared to someone who has worked for 10 years to save their own deposit? (Commercial lenders sometimes call this “blood money” where the borrower puts their own skin in the game as well as funds from the bank, to ensure they don’t just wind a company up and essentially have no personal liability. It is the same concept here).

Will the deposit impact the borrower’s ongoing income?

Lenders will also want to know that the deposit is affordable without impacting the income. If a professional gambler will be drawing on their reserves to fund the house purchase, how much will this impact their ability to create the same level of income?

Someone with a larger balance retained in their savings after the purchase is more likely to be approved for a gambling income mortgage than someone who’s been gifted a deposit, or is using all of their cash retaining less to gamble with.

Evidencing gambling income for a mortgage application

Because earnings are tax free, a professional gambler would not necessarily need to keep accounts – this makes establishing a true reflection of net income difficult.

If someone makes hundreds of bets a month with numerous transactions in and out of their bank account, from numerous gambling websites (as well as potential cash transactions), the actual income can be a nightmare to calculate. So if the question is, does online gambling affect getting a mortgage? The answer is usually yes.

It would seem prudent then, that anyone wanting to get a mortgage with gambling income produced a full set of accounts of gambling transactions to identify profit and loss on a year by year, month by month, maybe even week by week basis.

If the applicants have any other income

If 100% of the case income comes from gambling, this is likely to be considered higher risk than applicants that also have a solid, stable income from another source.

For example if applicant A is a professional gambler earning £100k per year, and applicant B is a teacher earning £40k, this would be considered less risk overall than applicant A on their own. This is especially true if applicant B can afford the mortgage alone, as then technically applicant A’s income is irrelevant.

If you want to know how much you can borrow on a mortgage if you’re a professional gambler, make an enquiry and one of the specialists can help.

Generally lending is capped around 4x income with most lenders, however some can consider 5, even 6 x income in certain circumstances.

Again, the higher the loan compared to the income, the higher the risk to the lender, so add to this the fact that the income is from gambling and borrowing up to higher ratio can be much more difficult as a gambler than someone in a professional, long-term position.

Adverse credit

Getting a mortgage with adverse credit history can be tricky depending on the date it was registered, the amount/size of the issue, and whether or not it has since been repaid.

Below is a list of potential credit issues you may be faced with as a borrower if you’ve ever experienced any of these:

  • Adverse credit overview
  • Low credit score
  • Mortgage Arrears
  • Defaults
  • County Court Judgements (CCJs)
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs)
  • Debt Management Plans (DMPs)
  • Bankruptcy
  • Repossession

Generally the more recent / severe the issue, the more deposit you’ll need. If you have bad credit and are a professional gambler, it limits the options further. That said there may well be specialist lenders considering both, depending on individual circumstances.

To establish if you’ll qualify for a mortgage as a professional gambler, make an enquiry and one of the experts will help!

Get a mortgage with recreational gambling transactions (but using a job as application income)

If you’re not looking to use gambling income to support the application, but have been declined for a mortgage because of gambling transactions, then fear not. Every lender has a different policy on what they’ll accept, and there are several lenders happy to consider providing you meet certain criteria. The key considerations are:

  • The number and frequency of transactions
    If an applicant who gamble is considered to be higher risk, then it makes sense someone who gambles daily, multiple times, and recently, would be higher risk than someone who has a flutter once a month. A further indication may be someone who has recently significantly increased their activity, especially if this is eating into savings / overdraft.
  • The size of transactions (relative to income)
    If an applicant with disposable income of say £1,000, gambles £500 per month, they are likely to be considered higher risk than someone gambling £50 per month. It would be sensible to assume that this is relative to income, as someone with £10,000 monthly income is much more likely to afford £500 a month. Again, if the size of transaction increases over time then this is likely to indicate further risk, so gambling activity and mortgage approvals are almost inexplicably linked.
  • The overview of general banking conduct
    If gambling is within a sensible level of disposable income, and there is no trend for significant increase in activity, then it’s less likely for the individual to be missing payments or overspending and going into overdrafts etc. If, however savings are diminishing over time, payments on unsecured accounts (loans, cards etc) are being missed, then gambling transactions may be looked on less favourably.
  • The source of deposit
    Where a deposit is from can impact an underwriters opinion of risk for a couple of reasons: If savings rather than a gift, then the borrower will have evidenced they can manage money and are disciplined enough to save. Also, if it’s their own cash, the lender will deem them more invested in the property and thus less likely to default on the mortgage payments.
  • If there has been any adverse credit issues
    The presence of credit history issues on a credit file can impact mortgage eligibility anyway, so add to this the difficulty faced by many who gamble, and the number of lenders can be much more limited. It depends on the type of credit issue (late payment, default, CCJ, Debt Management Plan, IVA, Bankruptcy, Repossession), how recently it was registered, how much is owed, and has it been repaid or not. The older and smaller the issue, and the greater the equity./deposit, the less the impact on a lending decision).

Why do mortgage lenders not like gambling transactions?

Lenders are always assessing risk and the probability of any applicant not repaying the loans they take, and consider numerous factors when establishing eligibility. Credit history, affordability, and loan to value ratios (LTV) are among the biggest indicators of risk, and others feature to a greater or lesser degree depending on which lender you approach.

Like someone who moves addresses frequently, has used payday loans, or perhaps has just started a new job, gambling transactions can indicate that someone has potentially higher risk than someone who doesn’t gamble at all.

Since the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) changes came into play, lenders have been handed greater responsibility for ensuring all borrowers can afford the mortgages they lend, which has significantly increased the scrutiny of applicants’ bank statements.

As a result, many more borrowers are questioned about transactions on their accounts, especially gambling on bank statements and things that would have otherwise gone unnoticed are being brought to light - gambling transactions being a good example of this.

How to get a mortgage with gambling transactions

Generally, getting a mortgage with recreational transactions but using a job as income is simpler than for someone who is a professional gambler. To establish if you qualify, make an enquiry and one of the experts will help!

Talk to a mortgage advisor who’s a specialist in this area

If you like anything in this article or you’d like to know more about how gambling can affect mortgage, call Online Mortgage Advisor today on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry here.

Then sit back and let us do all the hard work in finding the broker with the right expertise for your circumstances.  – We don’t charge a fee and there’s absolutely no obligation or marks on your credit rating.

Updated: 9th March 2020
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2020 ©

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The info on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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