I was involved with someone (not legally, a friend) and we used
my credit cards. Is that person half responsible for the debt that
I incurred as a result of the two of us gambling? The amount is
Can I be your friend, too?
Ouch! Forty grand is a very large gambling debt. Whether
your gambling buddy is legally or even technically responsible for
the debt is going to be the first thing I want you to determine.
Your decision will depend on what type of agreement you had about
the money. An agreement in writing would make the situation more
I'd be surprised, however, if you have anything in
writing. Absent a written agreement, an oral agreement to loan someone
money is still binding, but more difficult to prove. What I am really
concerned about is if you said something like, "Let's use my
credit card to gamble so I can get the reward points and we'll split
the proceeds." The assumption most people use when gambling
is that they are going to win, even though deep down we know this
isn't usually the case. Lastly, the whole thing may have just been
an assumption on both your parts with neither of you communicating
clearly what you were assuming about the money spent gambling.
Either way, the credit card company will look to you
and you alone to make the payments. Don't be late! If you are slow
on a payment, you could end up at the interest penalty rate, and
that can be a nosebleed 25-percent to 30-percent annual percentage
Here's my advice: You will need to communicate with
your friend about the debt. Due to the fact that you state you were
"involved" with this person, it may be a difficult thing
to discuss, but also quite necessary. If the conversation doesn't
go well and you have an agreement in writing, or if you both explicitly
agreed that this was a loan and you would split the deficit as well
as the winnings, consider contacting a lawyer to help you collect.
Keep in mind that once you involve a lawyer, it is likely your involvement
will change dramatically.
If your situation was loosely defined and could have
been interpreted more than one way, talk to your friend, but skip
the lawyer. And if there was no communication in advance, be sure
you have thought through what you will do if your friend answers,
in a shocked tone, "What are you talking about?" You may
have had a genuine misunderstanding and you and your friend will
have to think through just how much your friendship is worth. As
an example, I had a stock during the high tech bubble that I told
my broker, a friend, to sell. He didn't. He is still my friend and
I am still waiting for the stock to go back up.
At the end of the day, any contract, written, oral,
expressed or implied, is only as good as the person involved. So
find out if your friend plans to pay half or some portion of the
debt. If that is not possible, and you two are still talking, ask
your friend what he or she thinks would be fair. It will be up to
you to decide whether you can live with the answer or not.
Good luck! No pun intended.
The Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci,
is the president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern
New England. Visit CCCS
for additional debt
advice or click
here to ask a debt question.