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One million women struggle with harmful gambling as the ‘easy availability of online betting’ fuels a surge in problems, research shows.

Six in ten women gamble in some form, including playing the lottery, going to casinos and betting online.

And one in ten suffer some level of harm as a result, such as developing stress and anxiety or borrowing money to fund their habit.

The number of women receiving treatment for gambling has doubled in the past five years – from 1,134 in 2015/16 to 2,423 in 2020/21 – but the NHS said many more need help. A YouGov survey commissioned by charity GambleAware questioned 12,000 adults about their gambling habits to determine the scale of the problem.

They were given a score from 0 to 9, known as the Problem Gambling Severity Index, which measures how harmful a habit is based on criteria such as financial difficulties and guilt around gambling. And 4 per cent of women – equal to around one million overall – scored above three on the scale, meaning they suffer negative consequences.

Six in ten women gamble in some form, including playing the lottery, going to casinos and betting online (stock image)

Six in ten women gamble in some form, including playing the lottery, going to casinos and betting online (stock image)

Six in ten women gamble in some form, including playing the lottery, going to casinos and betting online (stock image)

Men were twice as likely as women to be classified as problem gamblers but women were more likely to say their gambling has caused mental health issues. The study found around 40 per cent of women suffering gambling harm do not seek help because of embarrassment.

Women’s gambling online is 29 per cent higher between December and March than the rest of the year.

GambleAware has now launched the first campaign targeted at women, to help those with a problem to seek support.

Liz Karter, a leading therapist in gambling addiction in women, said: ‘Gambling behaviours manifest themselves differently in women than men. 

‘For example, we know the easy availability of online gambling leads many women to games which appear innocent and socially acceptable… as they are so similar to the free-play digital games we are all now used to playing. In addition, the hopes of financial gains can prove a powerful motivator.’

The study found around 40 per cent of women suffering gambling harm do not seek help because of embarrassment (stock image)

The study found around 40 per cent of women suffering gambling harm do not seek help because of embarrassment (stock image)

The study found around 40 per cent of women suffering gambling harm do not seek help because of embarrassment (stock image)

Experts said there are three key warning signs for problem gamblers: losing track of time, spending more than they can afford and keeping their gambling secret.

Zoe Osmond, chief executive of GambleAware, said: ‘We are launching this new gambling harms prevention campaign at a time when there may be up to a million women at risk of gambling harms. 

‘Our research shows women may not be aware they are starting to experience harm from gambling or may be worried about reaching out for support due to stigma or shame.’

Yesterday it also emerged the NHS plans to ban gambling companies from funding their addiction clinics from the new financial year.

The health service receives around £1.2million a year from betting companies but health officials believe this can compromise their work.

Source: Daily Mail

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