GAMSTOP, who provide a free way to self exclude from UK bingo and other gambling sites, has reported a massive upsurge in women self excluding.
The number of women who have now used the GAMSTOP service and self-excluded from UK gambling sites. Now, more than 55,000 women have registered to self-exclude. In March 2020, 26% of all registrants for GAMSTOP's tool were women. By the end of the year, the number that had risen past 31%.
More than 55,000 Women Self Excluded
Commenting on the news, GAMSTOP CEO Fiona Palmer 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”.
GAMSTOP also cited statistics from the National Gambling Treatment Service which revealed an increasing percentage of women amongst those receiving treatment, was up from 19% in 2015/16 to almost 25% at the end of March 2020. A bigger percentage of the group than ever before also faced problems related to online gambling, up from 57% in 2015/16 to 69%.
Lisa Walker, herself a former gambling addict who has been in recovery from gambling addiction for over two years now counsels others who are struggling with addiction. She said:
“There is such a big stigma that women don’t gamble, which isn’t accurate. What I have found is that women don’t feel that they can talk about their addiction, with it often being seen as a male issue. I think it's fantastic that women are signing up to GAMSTOP and seeking help, though it also shows that there is lots more work to be done.
I've spoken with many women who don’t feel they can go to support meetings, and I find it so upsetting that somebody could feel that way, as though they can’t even seek help. I hope things change and if we can increase the visibility of women who are recovering in the media, that could make a big difference.”
Double the Rate of Men
GamCare, the fellow responsible gambling operator in the UK reported a rise in women gambling problems too. According to GamCare, the number of women experiencing gambling problems is increasing at double the rate of men. However, just 1% contact the National Gambling Helpline for assistance.
Anna Hemmings, CEO of leading national gambling support charity GamCare, said:
“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. GamCare is pleased to be able to work with GAMSTOP so people registering for online self-exclusion can also be swiftly connected through to specialist support and treatment services, which greatly increases the chance of sustaining a recovery from gambling harms.”
Pandemic Heightens Issue
Without a doubt the pandemic and subsequent lockdown's have had an effect on the increase in problem gambling. Psychotherapist Liz Karter 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. Women feel that they will be judged more for a gambling addiction than an addiction-related to drink or drugs, even though the physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms are similar and equally dangerous.”