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GambleAware has published research providing insights into the drivers for gambling and associated harms among women in Britain.

The study – Building Knowledge of Women’s Lived Experience of Gambling and Gambling Harms Across Great Britain – took findings from online workshops, interviews and focus groups that involved women from around Great Britain who have either gambled or have been affected by someone else’s gambling.

Conducted by IFF Research and the University of Bristol, with expert advice from GamCare, the study was commissioned to “build knowledge of the lived experiences of women in relation to gambling” and “inform delivery of their Organisation and Commissioning Strategy”.

As a result, GambleAware discovered that the main drivers that often cause women to gamble are psychological, social, financial and industry practices.

Psychological drivers for gambling participation included seeking positive emotions such as “the buzz” or “the thrill” or using gambling as a mental escape from negative feelings. Social drivers were described as gambling to build and maintain relationships with friends, family and colleagues.

Financial drivers for gambling participation included trying to win money to boost household finances, relieve financial pressures, or escape relationships, poverty or domestic abuse. Industry practice drivers included the role of marketing and advertising, gendered advertising female celebrity endorsement, targeted campaigns, and further prompts for those who gamble already.

The research also highlighted how many women do not perceive their gambling activity as gambling, compared to language and terms were used for their activity such as “getting my free spins” or “going to the bingo”, leading to a false perception that what they were doing wasn’t gambling and therefore it wasn’t perceived to be potentially harmful.

Anna Hargrave, GambleAware’s Chief Commissioning Officer, said: “There has been limited research previously carried out into women’s experience of gambling. However, participation in gambling among women and the rate of women experiencing gambling harms is increasing more quickly, so we felt it was essential to carry out this research to explore the lived experiences of women and their relationships with gambling. 

“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. We will consider the report’s findings and recommendations with interest, to see how it can help benefit our commissioning activity.”

The research listed several recommendations to support women who experience gambling harm, including “more gender-specific services that offer comprehensive support for women experiencing gambling harms and other overlapping issues such as poor mental health, financial issues or domestic violence”.

The report also recommends more support for those who are at risk of harm from someone else’s gambling, as well as further research into examining the links between targeted gambling advertising for women and gambling harm.

Laura Burke, GamCare Women’s Programme Manager, added: “At GamCare, we know that women can often face additional barriers in accessing support for gambling harms. Last year, 30 per cent of callers to our National Gambling Helpline were women.

“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.”