Can Gambling Affect Your Benefits?

If you receive any type of benefit then you’re probably familiar with your income being assessed.

It might be an income from a part-time job, savings interest or maybe a gifted amount from family or friends. All of this may cause a reduction in your benefits if you go over a defined threshold.

The benefit system in the UK has a history of consistently making things difficult when it comes to tax assessment. Something they’ve tried to simply the process of, with the birth of the Universal Credit system in 2013.

Whilst savings and employment are considerations of income, gambling winnings from betting sites or online casinos are something else that is constantly overlooked.

Tax and Your Gambling Winnings

Firstly, it’s key to understand that winnings from gambling are not taxed. Regardless of how much they are, either from winnings from a scratch card to having all the numbers in a lottery, the size of your win will always be the same amount that your bank balance sees.

Before you sigh a sigh of relief, though, hear this. Interest is taxable.

Meaning, if you randomly put a large deposit of cash into your bank account, the interest you get from that money is taxable. It is not the initial sum that’s taxed, but the additional earnings you receive from it.

Income and Benefits from Gambling

Right, now you know that, how does it affect benefits? You have to bear in mind the same principles of benefits as you do with tax and extra income.

Specific factors can affect the entitlement you have to benefits. Like specific factors affect if your money is taxable or not. For example, income tax on wages or a tax on the interest received from savings.

As a recipient of any type of benefit, you will be assessed on your capital. This is to say that if you have some savings which grow to go over the defined threshold, you might lose your entitlement to a portion of your benefits because of this.

Housing Benefit

Your capital counts as any assets or savings you might have. If you’re receiving housing benefit currently, you’re not eligible to get it if you have capital exceeding £16k.

You won’t be entitled to housing benefits if you have £16k+ of capital, and you should also be wary of anything above £6k. The benefits you receive will be reduced if you have more capital than this.

Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, if your other half has a Pension Credit Guarantee, the £16k threshold does not apply. Likewise, if you’re a pensioner your capital figure is raised from £6k to £10k.

If you’re lucky enough to have a windfall one day, you will have to inform the local authority so they may adjust your housing benefit accordingly. You have to declare it else you run the risk of a fraud conviction.

Regular Income that Could Affect Your Income Support

A sporadic big win (that doesn’t take you beyond the £6k capital mark) isn’t likely to be noticed by the Department for Work and Pensions. But. Income regularly coming in is another story.

You’re not obliged to declare gambling earnings with the HMRC, because they’re not taxable. But, the HMRC does share information with the Department for Work and Pensions regularly in the name of fighting fraud.

How Does This Work?

This means, effectively, that you might be liable to hand over your bank statements if there’s any suspicion of frequent income that could mean you’re violating the terms of your income support.

Say, for example, you took part in matched betting and there is a lot more opportunity for income. Also the potential to lose a lot of money, too. Be careful).  This could very well be assessed.

When this happens, it’s always going to bode well to just be totally honest with whomever you’re receiving your benefits from. It’s down to them to decide if ultimately they class your winnings as a regular income, or as capital.

There are cases of gamblers, for example, who have won a huge sum and the Department for Work and Pensions categorised it as 12 monthly payments. It would, therefore, be classified as regular income.

The Discrepancy to Benefits

Not all benefits are equal. Some benefits are given via means-testing, in that the Department for Work and Pensions assessed your individual circumstance and consider your capital to help them decide if you’re entitled to the benefits, or not.

Currently, these benefits are means-tested:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Social Fund
    • Sure Start Maternity Grant
    • Funeral Payments
    • Cold Weather Payments
  • Income Support
  • Council Tax Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Jobseekers’ Allowance
  • Tax Credits
    • Child Tax Credit
    • Working Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

If you are a recipient of a non-means tested benefit it’s more likely that the Department for Work and Pensions will have a more relaxed approach. Most of the non-means tested benefits are for those with disabilities which could very well affect how able you are to gamble.

If you’re lawfully able to gamble and are a recipient of a non-means tested benefit, this won’t have any effect.

Other non-means tested benefits are things like statutory benefits like maternity or paternity leave. If you have the time to go out and buy a scratch card and win big whilst looking after a baby then go ahead! You deserve it!

Being Lawful

Obviously, benefit fraud is a severe offence, so there’s no benefit to risking it with irresponsible gambling. Don’t risk not getting the money you’re legally entitled to.

Most of the time, the DWP treat people fairly. Anyone who’s straightforward and honest about extra earnings they get from gambling will be treated equitably.

It’s not clever to consider gambling as a stable source of frequent earning. There’s no guarantee that the earnings will be consistent, you might have one good month, one bad one. It could also affect your benefits.

As it’s always advised with gambling, it’s recommended to be viewed as a leisurely hobby.

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