GambleAware has updated its research on “British Women and Gambling” to spotlight unique drivers and circumstances that may lead to experiencing problem gambling or heightened risks.
Commissioned by GambleAware as the UK’s grant-making charity for research, education and treatment (RET) of problem gambling, the study was conducted by IFF Research and the University of Bristol, with advice from GamCare.
The comprehensive study sheds light on the elements that often lead women into harmful gambling behaviours, offering pivotal recommendations to address this issue more effectively.
Essential conclusions of the report focus on four main drivers behind women’s engagement in gambling activities.
Initial findings point towards ‘Psychological Motivators’ which can lead women to seek positive emotions, with participants describing the allure of gambling as “the buzz” or “the thrill”. For many, gambling represents an escape from negative emotions, such as stress and boredom.
The research also highlighted social factors, revealing that women often turn to gambling to forge and maintain relationships with friends, acquaintances, family, and colleagues. This suggests that the social component of gambling might be more significant for women than it might appear at first glance.
Thirdly, financial incentives play a crucial role in encouraging women to gamble. The prospect of winning money often represents an appealing solution to economic pressures. Some participants cited a desire to boost their household finances or escape poverty, relationships, or domestic abuse as reasons to gamble.
Lastly, the report identifies industry practices, particularly marketing and advertising, as influential drivers. Gendered advertising strategies, often including female celebrity endorsement or campaigns specifically targeting women, encourage women who already gamble to continue and potentially increase their gambling behaviour.
Anna Hargrave GambleAware’s Chief Commissioning Officer, expressed concerns about these findings, stating: “The research shows the drivers for gambling amongst women, which may lead to them unfortunately experiencing gambling harms, and demonstrates that there are many factors driving women to gamble more. We were particularly concerned by the effect marketing and advertising is having.”
In light of these findings, the study provides several recommendations for offering more effective support for women experiencing gambling-related harm.
Researchers emphasised the importance of gender-specific services that can address gambling harm’s multifaceted nature, which often intersects with mental health issues, financial troubles, and domestic violence. These recommendations are vital, given the narrowing gender gap in gambling participation, despite societal perceptions that men are more likely to gamble.
Moreover, there is a call for more services to assist those affected indirectly by someone else’s gambling behaviour. According to the study, women are more likely to fall into this category, emphasizing the necessity for inclusive and supportive strategies.
Laura Burke, GamCare Women’s Programme Manager, supported this sentiment: “This is why this research is important to help us continue building understanding of the unique challenges women face when it comes to gambling harm, and how we can increasingly tailor our support services around them.”
To conclude, the research commissioned by GambleAware offers invaluable insights into the psychological, social, financial, and industry-related factors contributing to women’s engagement in gambling in Britain.
GambleAware hopes that its research lays the groundwork for a broader understanding of these complex issues and provide a roadmap for future research and interventions, emphasizing the importance of gender-specific and inclusive support services.
Of importance to stakeholders, it was underlined for the need for a proactive and nationwide approach to dealing with this “escalating problem is required, and these recommendations provide a promising starting point”.