The study found that among women experiencing high levels of harm, 39% may refrain from seeking help or treatment due to perceived stigma like feeling embarrassed or not wanting people to know about their gambling.
It was also revealed that gambling websites popular with women seemingly peak in the winter months, with total average traffic between December and March up 29% compared to the rest of the year.
GambleAware also noted that the number of women receiving treatment for gambling has doubled in the past five years – up from 1,134 in 2015-16 to 2,423 in 2020-21.
However, while more women are accessing services such as The National Gambling Treatment Service or the National Helpline, GambleAware said this only represents a fraction of those experiencing gambling harms.
In response, GambleAware has now launched its first ever female-focused harms prevention campaign, with the aim to engage women around warning signs and where to seek support before gambling becomes harmful.
The new campaign highlights the three key warning signs to look for in someone who may be starting to experience harms from gambling including losing track of time, spending more than you can afford and keeping your gambling secret from those around you.
The campaign will launch with a video starring television personality Angellica Bell, speaking to gambling and health experts to highlight the unique stigma and challenges that women experiencing gambling harms may face.
“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,” GambleAware chief executive Zoë Osmond said.
“That’s why our campaign highlights the warning signs to look out for, so we can support women who gamble and prevent them from developing gambling harms.
Gambling minister Chris Philp backed the initiative, saying: “I welcome this campaign to increase awareness of problem gambling among women. It’s vital that we continue to do all we can to protect those at risk from gambling-related harm.
“The gambling landscape has evolved immeasurably in the past 15 years and our comprehensive gambling act review will ensure our gambling laws offer the right balance of protections in the digital age.”
Health minister Gillian Keegan added: “While the economic costs of harmful gambling are stark, the cost to individuals and those around them as a result of their addiction cannot be overstated.
“This campaign is a fantastic way to raise awareness about the harms of gambling which can impact an individual, as well as their friends and family. By highlighting the early warning signs, supporting women and providing advice we can help to stop harmful gambling dead in its tracks.”