GamCare has found that a reluctance among women to seek the support they need, due to gambling being perceived as a ‘male’ activity, can lead to greater harm being experienced.
This follows the first report from the group’s Women’s Programme, which receives funding from the Tampon Tax to deliver outreach, education and awareness on the subject.
Outlining the “worrying trends amongst women who are being harmed by gambling,” in the first year of the programme GamCare focused on barriers to women accessing help and worked with 300 organisations and over 3,000 professionals to deliver their CPD accredited training.
Among the key findings of the report, it was said that gamblers identifying as female who were interviewed highlighted feeling high levels of shame and stigma, because of societal perceptions that gambling is a ‘male’ activity in which women should not, or do not, take part.
Furthermore, some reported an assumption that gambling could not be damaging to them or their families as they were not seen as financial ‘owners’ in the home, contributing to low levels of help seeking and higher levels of harm.
The survey also showed that women who gamble report significant financial losses, with many reported in the tens of thousands, as well as a key issue pinpointed being that of a detrimental impact to mental health.
Anna Hemmings, chief executive of GamCare, explained: “The issues that women are facing are often hidden from support services. Our Women’s Programme has told us that we need to remove barriers for women to access help with gambling related harm, but we also need to ensure that those providing that support are better equipped to help them.
“We must get to grips with the unnecessary shame and stigma women feel around asking for help. Gambling is not just a male activity, and it can affect women in significant, potentially life-changing ways.
“We have already achieved a lot in the first year of this programme, and I’m looking forward to the second year of the programme where we will be spreading the learning to improve support for women.”
One woman who contacted GamCare, who does not wish to be named, shared the guilt and shame that her gambling impacted on her husband and children: “It’s really complex, the shame you feel – it’s like you’re letting everyone down.
“My message to other women experiencing harms because of gambling is that you’re not alone. It can happen to anyone, and you shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for help.”
GamCare says that it will continue to strengthen referral pathways into support and treatment for women affected by gambling, as well as continuing to gather lived experience from women across the UK and broadening the evidence-base for treatment that works.