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Gambling among women: A hidden issue

Aimee Oliveri (Clinical Psychologist) & Dr Anastasia Hronis (Clinical Psychologist)

Gambling is often considered a male-dominated activity.

This is largely because, statistically speaking, women are less likely to have a gambling issue than men. However, over the past five years, the number of women reporting a gambling issue has increased by double the rate of men in places like the UK. (Source: Gambling Helpline UK)

While both men and women may share similar motivations for gambling, research suggests that women may approach gambling differently than men.

One of the key differences between men and women when it comes to gambling is the type of gambling activity they engage with.

For example, women are more likely to participate in gambling activities that are relatively effortless and low-risk, such as bingo and lotteries, while men gravitate towards more social, skill-based gambling games, such as sports betting, poker and blackjack.

Women also tend to prefer online gambling to traditional gambling environments, because they are more accessible from the comfort of their own homes, and are less stigmatised.

Women also differ from men in their motivations for gambling, but both men and women are equally motivated by the chance to win money.

Research shows that women primarily gamble:

  • as a means of self-soothing
  • to reduce stress
  • to distract themselves
  • to escape from the demands of everyday life.

Also, women are more likely to gamble in response to major life changes such as having children.

In terms of the risks and impacts associated with gambling, women may be more cautious than men when it comes to behaviours like overspending or chasing losses.

Nonetheless, research shows that women can develop an issue with gambling more quickly than men because of the ease with which women can now gamble online. Studies in the UK have found women who have online gambling accounts tend to play more often, for longer, in isolation, and spend more money in total than men (Source: Gambling Commission UK).

Women may well be less likely to seek help, are more likely to hide their gambling from friends and family, and often feel very alone, judged, and ashamed of their addiction.

If you are a woman struggling gambling, it's important to know that you are not alone, and that help is available.

The first step in overcoming a gambling issue is to acknowledge that gambling is the causing you harm, and talking about it and asking for help.

It is also important to keep in mind that trying to make changes as early as possible is always useful. You may not feel that you have a significant issue with gambling at the moment, however talking with someone, and trying to make small changes sooner rather than later, can help change the trajectory of potential problems with gambling later on.

For more support on this topic or any gambling issue, call Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858 or visit our Find Support page for more options.



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