GambleAware issues new report “the buzz” or “the thrill” of gambling

Responsible Gambling

GambleAware has revealed new insights about British women and gambling, including the drivers that often lead them to experience gambling harms. 

Published in a report released today, the research – which was conducted by IFF Research and University of Bristol with expert advice from GamCare – found that the main drivers of gambling among women in Britain are:

Psychological drivers: including seeking positive emotions – which many women described as “the buzz” or “the thrill” – or using gambling as a mental escape to try to avoid negative emotions such as stress or boredom.

Social drivers: partaking in gambling to help develop and maintain relationships with friends, acquaintances, family and colleagues.

Financial drivers: the idea of winning money, often in an attempt to boost household finances and to relieve financial pressures, or to provide hope of escape from relationships, poverty, or domestic abuse.

Industry practices and the role that marketing and advertising plays: Strategies such as gendered advertising, including using female celebrity endorsement, or targeted campaigns aimed at different groups of women, prompt women who already gamble to continue, gamble more often, or try new gambling products. One of the main recommendations from the report is for more research to be commissioned to examine these links between advertising and gambling harm.

While men are widely perceived as more likely to gamble than women, this report examined a range of participation data and confirmed previous findings that the gender gap may be narrowing1. However, the research found that many women do not recognise their activity as ‘gambling’, because few used the term, “gambling” for their activities. Instead, they used language that described either the specific activity, such as “getting my free spins” and “placing a bet”, or they used language which described the occasion; for example, “going to the bingo”. This use of different language often led to the perception that what they were doing wasn’t gambling and was a key reason why many did not recognise they could be gambling in potentially harmful ways, even though there were signs that this was the case. 

The report makes several recommendations to better support women experiencing gambling harms, 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. Another recommendation is for more services to offer support for affected others – who are at risk of harm from someone else’s gambling – as women are also more likely to be an affected other than men.  

Anna Hargrave, GambleAware 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.