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Up to one million women in Great Britain at risk of gambling harms Published Date: 31/01/2022

New analysis shows up to one million women in Great Britain could be at risk of experiencing harm from gambling, the charity GambleAware has warned, as they launch a new campaign today (31 January) for women to highlight the warning signs of problem gambling and signpost towards support.

Among women experiencing high levels of harm, two in five (39%) may refrain from seeking help or treatment due to perceived stigma, such as feeling embarrassed, or not wanting people to know about their gambling.

The warning comes as new statistics also released today show activity on gambling websites popular with women peaks in the winter months – with total average traffic between December and March up by 29% compared to the rest of the year.

In response, GambleAware has launched its first ever harms prevention campaign specifically aimed at women to engage women around critical warning signs and where to seek support before gambling becomes harmful.

The three key warning signs to look for in someone who may be starting to experience harms from gambling;

  • losing track of time;
  • spending more than you can afford; and
  • keeping your gambling secret from those around you. 

Alongside this resource, the campaign launches with a new video staring Angellica Bell speaking to gambling and health experts to highlight the unique stigma and challenges women experiencing gambling harms may face.

Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, said:

“We are launching this new gambling harms prevention campaign at a time when there may be up to a million women at risk of gambling harms.

“Our research shows women may not be aware they are starting to experience harm from gambling or, may be worried about reaching out for support due to stigma or shame.

“That’s why our campaign highlights the warning signs to look out for, so we can support women who gamble and prevent them from developing gambling harms.

“Anyone concerned about their gambling, or that of a loved one, can visit for free, confidential advice and support, or The National Gambling Helpline is available on 0808 8020 133 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Gambling Minister Chris Philp said:

"I welcome this campaign to increase awareness of problem gambling among women. It's vital that we continue to do all we can to protect those at risk from gambling-related harm.

"The gambling landscape has evolved immeasurably in the past 15 years and our comprehensive gambling act review will ensure our gambling laws offer the right balance of protections in the digital age." 

Health Minister, Gillian Keegan, said:

“While the economic costs of harmful gambling are stark, the cost to individuals and those around them as a result of their addiction cannot be overstated.

“This campaign is a fantastic way to raise awareness about the harms of gambling which can impact an individual, as well as their friends and family. By highlighting the early warning signs, supporting women and providing advice we can help to stop harmful gambling dead in its tracks.

“More widely, we are working to protect vulnerable people from the damaging impacts gambling can have, including through specialist NHS gambling addiction clinics, as part of our investment of an extra £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24 to expand mental health services.”

Liz Karter MBE, leading UK expert in gambling addiction in women and a gambling addiction counsellor, said:

“Gambling behaviours manifest themselves differently in women than men. For example, we know the easy availability of online gambling leads many women to games which appear innocent and socially acceptable. The games seem safe and familiar, as they are so similar to the free play digital games we are all now used to playing.

“In addition, the hopes of financial gains can prove a powerful motivator. While gambling doesn’t always lead to harm, it’s vital women are aware of early warning signs including losing track of time, incurring increasing debt, or a tendency to hide gambling from others or gambling to forget their problems”.

The number of women receiving treatment for gambling has doubled in the past five years – up from 1,134 in 2015/16 to 2,423 in 2020/21. Yet despite a growing number accessing services such as The National Gambling Treatments Service or the National Helpline, this only represent a fraction of those who are experiencing gambling harms.