Playing the National Lottery has always been a popular form of entertainment among British women of all ages but recently, a trend has surfaced with women moving towards other gambling products online.
While gambling, in general, remains a predominately male-centric activity, a recent study in the UK has gotten to the heart of the matter, looking at this trend, its causes, and the prevalence of online gambling among women.
A New Pastime for Women
According to a newly published study by GambleAware, it was uncovered that as many as 1 million British females could be at risk of problem gambling. This was highlighted by the fact that there has been a substantial increase in the number of participants at online casino and bingo sites during the winter season.
While the cold weather keeps people inside and fear of the Covid pandemic has slowed travel for many, it seems that British women have turned to other forms of entertainment. Historically, the main form of gambling that British women engaged in was playing the National Lottery as well as bingo and scratch cards.
It seems that with the growth of smartphone technology, better accessibility, and the anonymity of gambling online, more and more females in theUK have increasingly begun gambling online.
The Female Gambling Landscape
The study uncovered that while gambling has always been a male-centric pastime, the balance of genders is starting to move a bit to the other side. In today’s day and age when women feel like they’re expected to do it all, it’s not surprising that the draw of easy money is hard to resist for many struggling with finances, loneliness, and all of the world’s uncertainties.
GambleAware found that between December and March online gambling activity rises by around 29% among women in the UK, presumably due to dreary weather, seasonal depression, and financial stresses around the holidays. These are the same contributing factors attributed to the increased number of gamblers during lockdowns worldwide as well.
Risk of Problem Gambling
While up to 1 million British women may be at risk for problem gambling, it seems that women still have a lower gambling risk rate than men. The study found that the risk rate among women is between 0.2%-0.9% whereas, for men, it holds firm at around 1.4%.
Why the increase for women?
When starting an exercise regimen, many women might explain that traditional weight lifting gyms are frequented predominantly by males, making it a bit daunting for a single woman to visit. The same holds true for the gambling hobby, with sports betting and table games at casinos being primarily male-dominated activities.
With lockdowns and the closure of land-based casinos and sports betting shops, there was a surge in online gambling. The anonymity of the internet and the ability to gamble outside of these heavily populated areas could be one of the contributing factors to the rise in women gamblers. The ability to play in a comfortable setting without feeling judged or outnumbered by gender could make it more appealing for women to enter into gambling.
Barriers to Seeking Treatment
According to the study, it appears that the main reasons for not seeking help for problem gambling among British females are threefold.
- The first reason was not recognizing that they have a problem. Over 44% of women in the study believed that either their gambling wasn’t risky enough to warrant help or that they only bet small amounts of money.
- The women in the study also avoided seeking help due to the stigma of having a gambling problem. Whether feeling embarrassment or shame for their behaviour, this significantly contributed to them avoiding seeking help and support.
- The last reason was less of a factor but was noted in the study as respondents not believing that the advice or support would not be relevant to their particular situation.
Understanding the causes and underlying factors associated with problem gambling is a crucial step in preventing and helping players from falling victim to risky habits.
In response to the study’s findings, the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission) announced that it planned to conduct further research and ongoing surveys into this growing phenomenon as well as the impact of gambling on the mental health of both men and women in the UK. This type of research both informs the industry as well as aids in helping legislators to understand how best to regulate the industry for the safety of all.
Additionally, GambleAware has launched an advertising campaign to help raise awareness of this problem in the United Kingdom. The campaign highlights the major warning signs of problem gambling, including losing track of time gambling, spending more money than you can afford, and hiding the situation from friends and family.