In January 2021 Betknowmore UK launched a new research project called Treatment and Support Services for Women Experiencing Gambling Harms: What Women Get and What Women Want. The project is exploring how approachable, accessible and effective women find the support and treatment services currently available to them. We aim to identify the elements that support and treatment services need to put in place in order to attract and help more women, and we’ll be involving women with lived experience in designing an “ideal” service tailored specifically to women.
Over the past five years, the number of women reporting a gambling problem has risen at more than twice the rate of men, from 2,303 in 2014/15 to 3,109 in 2019, according to figures from GamCare, and this number is thought to be significantly underestimated. This rise has been attributed to the ease with which women can now gamble online using their smartphones. Research has shown that women often gamble to escape personal relationship or work pressures, boredom, loneliness, social isolation and depression. It is also believed that women’s problems with gambling develop more quickly than men’s because they tend to choose quick, high-stakes games such as online slots and bingo that they can play continuously. Almost 70% of women who gamble use apps and websites. Not all women are affected equally by harms that range from financial problems such as debt and bankruptcy, to declining mental and physical health, including suicide, relationship problems such as divorce and neglect of family, and criminal behaviour such as fraud. Female gamblers experiencing high levels of harm are much more likely to be Black, Asian or from other ethnic minority groups than white women.
In 2019, across GamCare, GambleAware and Gambling Therapy, 30% of helpline calls came from women, with 59% seeking help for another and 41% seeking help for themselves, in total numbering 9,000 women. Also there was an increase of more than 100,000 women visiting the Gambling Therapy website, up 76% from the previous year. But despite these increases, GamCare and Gambling Commission data suggest that only around 1% of women who experience gambling related harm contact the National Gambling Helpline.
Gender neutrality is a defining characteristic of the bulk of the treatment and support services offered to women. Just two service providers, Gamblers Anonymous and Gordon Moody Association, offer services specifically for women. Gamblers Anonymous provides “women-preferred” groups, while Gordon Moody Association has an intensive treatment programme to meet the needs of women. While the service is free and women can self-refer, places are limited and many women are unable to travel and stay away from their home environments. Outside of these two organisations, British support and treatment services offer little to women that is specifically designed with their needs in mind. GamCare is currently into the third year of its Women’s Programme, which is training professionals and networking to raise awareness, developing practical tools to identify girls and women in need of support and also conducting an online survey of women.
To understand how women make decisions about where to go for support and treatment, Betknowmore is launching a project that will explore how approachable, accessible and effective women find existing support and treatment services.
If you have any questions about the research or would like to participate in the focus groups, please get in touch with Liz Riley, our Research and Evaluation Manager, at email@example.com.
Get help for a loved one or someone you know who is suffering from gambling-related harm.