New statistics show that activity on gambling websites popular with women peaks in the winter months – with total average traffic between December and March up 29% compared to the rest of Europe year.
The charity is launching a campaign highlighting three possible signs of problem gambling; losing track of time, spending more than you can afford, and keeping this habit a secret from those around you.
Its stats show that last year, 22.1% of women had gambled online in the past four weeks, up from 16.2% in 2019.
Over the past four years, the number of women playing the game has increased by 54%, including a 37% increase during the pandemic. Over the same period, the rise has been much slower among men, with a 28% increase over four years, including a 12% increase since 2019.
Zoë Osmond, Managing Director of GambleAware, said: “We are launching this new campaign to prevent gambling harms at a time when there could be up to one million women at risk of gambling harms.
“Our research shows that women may be unaware that they are beginning to experience harm from gambling or worry about seeking help due to stigma or shame.”
She said there had been a “significant increase” in the use of online gambling sites during the shutdowns.
“Often these sites are viewed by women as innocent social entertainment – but research shows that those who gamble online are more likely than those who gamble in general to have a low to moderate risk of gambling harms,” said she declared.
It follows research that shows women are exposed to significantly more gambling ads than men – viewing an average of 18.5 ads per week, compared to 15.9 for men.
The charity’s research found that even when women suffered high levels of harm from online betting, they were less likely than men to seek help.
However, 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.
Experts have said gambling addictions could impact relationships, health and finances, driving people away from loved ones.
Liz Karter, a British expert on gambling addiction in women, said: “Gambling behaviors manifest differently in women than in men. For example, we know that the ease of access to online gambling leads many women to games that seem innocent and socially acceptable. The games feel safe and familiar because they’re so similar to the free digital games we’re all used to playing.”
Anyone concerned about their gambling, or that of a loved one, can visit BeGambleAware.org for free, confidential advice and support, or The National Gambling Helpline is available on 0808 8020 133 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days out of seven.