HOMEOWNERS are being refused mortgages and restructuring deals because of online betting accounts.
A top mortgage advisory firm has claimed that online betting accounts with the likes of Paddy Power or Betfair are being used as criteria to refuse struggling homeowners a restructuring in their mortgages. And in some cases, lenders are using gambling habits as a reason for refusing a mortgage outright.
Trevor Grant, of debt advisory firm Negotiate, stated that gambling transactions which appear on bank statements are often used to decline applications, regardless of the borrower's overall finances.
"When a lender assesses an application for reduced mortgage repayments due to financial difficulty, the customer is required to submit a detailed application, often including current account and credit card statements," he said.
According to Mr Grant, lenders will, "not unreasonably", deem online gambling as a form discretionary expenditure.
"Lenders will form a view that if the customer is struggling to pay their mortgage they should be tightening their belts, and they consider gambling, for example, as a non-essential activity and therefore should be one of the first social indulgences to be cut."
And it has also emerged that lenders are closely scrutinising TV and mobile phone bills as well as school tuition fees.
The seriousness of the country's gambling habit was laid bare last week by the Rutland Centre in Dublin which said 24-hour availability of online gambling had created a "crisis of addiction", particularly among young men.
The centre said they have received a surge in calls from gambling addicts who have racked up debts so large that they are unable to pay essential bills such as mortgages.
Head of the treatment centre, Dr Fiona Wheldon revealed that people contacting them for help were accumulating debts of between ¤250,000 and €1m.