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GambleAware: Gendered marketing drives female gambling harm

| By Richard Mulligan
Research commissioned by 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 (30 May), the research – which was conducted by IFF Research and University of Bristol with expert advice from GamCare – found that women are influenced by a range of psychological, social and financial drivers.

Women are more likely to gamble through operators’ use of gendered advertising, including using female celebrity endorsement, or targeted campaigns aimed at different groups of women.

One of the main recommendations from the report is for more research to be commissioned to examine the links between advertising and gambling harm.

GambleAware commissioned the research to build knowledge about why women in Britain take part in different types of gambling, the effect this has on them and their lives and their experience of treatment and support services.

“There has been limited research previously carried out into women’s experience of gambling,” said Anna Hargrave, chief commissioning officer at GambleAware. “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 among 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.”

Various drivers

The psychological drivers observed included 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 include partaking in gambling to help develop and maintain relationships with friends, acquaintances, family and colleagues, while financial drivers would be 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.

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 GambleAware said women are also more likely to be affected other than men.

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