Question: I met with an Ontario bankruptcy trustee and need to fill out the forms to file for bankruptcy in Ontario. His questionnaire says “in your own words, what circumstances have caused your financial problem?”. Do I need to disclose the fact that I have a gambling addiction or is it okay to be vague and just say that I over-extended myself over a long period of time? I have heard that there can be additional penalties if your bankruptcy is due to gambling.
Answer: You are not eligible to be automatically discharged from bankruptcy if gambling was the cause of your financial problems; you would be required to attend a discharge hearing before the Bankruptcy Registrar, and they would determine whether or not your bankruptcy would be extended. Generally the Registrar would want you to confirm that you are no longer gambling (perhaps through a voluntary self-exclusion at the casino), and also providing proof that you have attended gambling counselling.
In most cases your creditors will be aware of your gambling. They will see cash advances being taken from your credit cards, bank loans and lines of credit, and they may also have records of cash advances taken on your debt or credit cards at the casino, or through on-line gambling. So, if you don’t disclose it, and they discover it later, you are in much more trouble than if you had simply disclosed it initially.
We therefore recommend that you be honest; that is generally the least risky alternative.
If you are concerned about a bankruptcy discharge hearing, another option is to file a consumer proposal. Once the creditors accept your proposal, you simply make the payments; there is no discharge hearing.
Consult a bankruptcy trustee and consumer proposal administrator for more information, and to arrange a no charge initial consultation.