GAMSTOP, the UK’s free self-exclusion service, has revealed that more than 55,000 women have registered to self-exclude from online gambling websites.
The latest figures show that 31% of self-exclusions are now women, an increase on the 26% recorded in March of 2020. GamCare, a charity that provides support for problem gamblers in the UK, has also stated that the number of women who experience gambling problems is growing at double the rate of men. However, only 1% of women actually seek assistance.
The National Gambling Treatment Service has also reported an increase in women receiving treatment. In 2015 women accounted for 19% of those receiving treatment but that had grown to 25% in March 2020.
GAMSTOP has suggested that this change is likely due to the coronavirus global pandemic as people are spending more time at home.
This view has been supported by mental health experts such as psychotherapist Liz Karter. Speaking of the figures, she said:
“The pandemic is creating a perfect storm of triggers for addictive gambling in women: feeling trapped, anxious and depressed, and overwhelmed by families or loneliness,”
“As mental health problems increase so too will addiction to gambling. I treat young women who are wild with anxiety and stress, and for whom gambling started as self-medication, but the end results are always devastating costs to their mental health and finances.”
GAMSTOP CEO Fiona Palmer felt that the figures revealed that online gambling addiction, which is often considered a male problem, is affecting women just as much.
Speaking of the findings, she said:
“As we begin to understand the demographic make-up of our register it is important to feed back to the various support agencies and work together to encourage those women who have registered with GAMSTOP to access the help they may need going forward.
“50,000 female registrants is a significant number and we are pleased that they have found the GAMSTOP self-exclusion scheme and that it is a useful practical tool to help with their gambling issues.”
Anne Hemmings, CEO of GamCare took a similar viewpoint
“We must get to grips with the unnecessary shame and stigma women feel around asking for help with gambling. Gambling is not just a male activity, and it can affect women in significant, potentially life-changing ways.
“Our dedicated Women’s Programme has told us that we need to remove barriers for women to access help with gambling related harm – the issues that women are facing are often hidden from support services.
Hemmings also stated that GamCare’s work with GAMSTOP gives people who register for online self-exclusion programmes immediate access to specialist support which can increase the chance of recovering from gambling harms.