Number of female problem gamblers up 80% in four years

Women now make up a quarter of referrals to some gambling support services

Author: Mick CoylePublished 1 hour ago

As many as two in three adults in Great Britain who have experienced a gambling problem have kept their experience hidden, new research has revealed.

The stats, seen by Hits Radio, are looking at the social pressures of problem gambling, and how it stops people asking for help.

They show 39% of those who didn’t speak out blamed shame, guilt and fear of judgement as the reason.

The research also found some gambling support charities are seeing a huge rise in the number of women coming forward for support with their addiction, with rises of 80% in the last four years.

In some services, women make up one in four service users.

Warning about gambling harms

The research – from GambleAware – has led to calls for those who may be experiencing gambling harms to ‘open-up about gambling’.

Chief Executive Zoë Osmond said: “It’s alarming to see the number of people who are struggling in isolation.

“As a hidden addiction, gambling harms can be incredibly hard to spot from the outside. It is therefore critical that people impacted are aware of the wide range of support services available, and that they feel safe to come forward.

“Anyone can be impacted by gambling harms, but the first step is to open up and have that first conversation, ideally as early as possible.”

New digital forms of gambling

The campaign launch comes as research also suggests that most of the public believe certain gambling products, such as instant win games, are addictive, indicating how gambling harm can affect anyone and the importance of building empathy for those experiencing harm.

Specifically, over seven in ten (71%) respondents said they believe instant win games are very or fairly addictive, followed by 64% for scratch cards and 62% for casino games.

Elissa Hubbard, who has lived experience of gambling harms said: “Every day was full of anxiety – trying to keep my gambling a secret, whilst finding opportunities to do it more.”

Elissa told us how she first gambled at the age of nine, and continued into her 20s, by visiting bookmakers.

She later turned to online gambling – and even left her wedding early so she could bet on her phone.

She told us: “People think you can ‘just stop’, but you can’t… it’s so easy to be dismissed, and I didn’t want anyone to think bad of me.

“Finding help changed everything. I discovered that by keeping quiet, it helps no one, and when you start to talk about it, people start to understand you”.

Getting help for gambling

If you’re worried about how gambling makes you feel, there is free and confidential advice, tools and support, through GambleAware

Contact the National Gambling Helpline, available 24/7, on 0808 8020 133.

Search for gambling services in your area via the Hub of Hope

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