Up to one million women at risk of gambling harms – charity
The campaign by charity GambleAware is specifically aimed at women and highlights the critical warning signs of problem gambling and where to seek help.
The charity revealed new statistics showing 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.
Research suggested two in five women experiencing high levels of gambling harm may not seek help due to the perceived stigma surrounding the issue.
GambleAware said losing track of time, spending more than was affordable and keeping gambling a secret were key warning signs.
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, according to data from the National Gambling Treatment Service.
However this only represented a fraction of those who are experiencing gambling harms, GambleAware said.
GambleAware chief executive Zoe Osmond 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.”
Gambling addiction expert and counsellor Liz Karter 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.”
Anyone concerned about their gambling, or that of a loved one, can visit BeGambleAware.org for free, confidential advice and support.
The National Gambling Helpline is available on 0808 8020 133 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.