There is no doubt that gambling addiction is a very real problem. While most people are able to enjoy a bet without any risk of getting addicted, for others it is difficult to remain in control.

As with many addictions, it can start by playing free slots with no financial risk. Most people finding playing free slots is completely harmless as it does not involve betting any real money, but for others it can be the starting point to a devastating gambling addiction.

What is particularly interesting is that gambling addiction rates are not the same for men and women. Here, we take a look at why that is and what we can learn from the data.

Gambling addiction does not just affect men

There is a perception that gambling addiction is mostly an issue just suffered by males.

But research shows this is not the case, though the data does show that gambling addiction tends to be more common among men than with women.

GamCare and Gambling Commission data collated in the UK last year suggested that out of all women who have experienced some form gambling related harm, just one per cent or so went on to contact the National Gambling Helpline.

What this means is that it is difficult to judge exactly how many women have a problem with gambling, as well as making it challenging to assess why their addiction has developed.

Additionally, it needs to be pointed out that women can be indirectly affected by gambling addiction too. For instance, another person's gambling, such as that of a partner, might result in a variety of safeguarding issues for a woman.

It also appears to be the case that female problem gamblers tend to be much less likely to reach out for help regarding gambling addiction themselves.

Reasons cited for this include the possibility they fear having their children taken away from them if it becomes public knowledge that they are battling a form of addiction.

Men have higher losses and wins

Various studies have looked into the differences in gambling addiction rates between men and women, including one piece of research that was published back in 2016.

In the study, it was stated that in the United States - where various forms of betting are still prohibited - gambling is "fast becoming a public health problem".

Men have been found to record higher losses and wins in their gambling, when compared to women, while it is estimated that more than four per cent of men who gamble have a problem with addiction, with this figure dropping to under three per cent for women.

"Gender differences seem to occur as early as young adulthood, but little is known about the risk factors accounting for these differences in gambling involvement," the study said.

More women problem gamblers in Sweden

One of the most surprising studies into gambling addiction in recent years came out of Sweden. In this research, which was published in 2019, it was revealed in the country's health authority's latest survey figures that most Swedes battling gambling addiction were women, not men.

It was later claimed that this was the first time a study had found more women gamblers compared to men, with Ulla Romild, the investigator behind the report, explaining the number of females with an addiction to gambling appears to be on the rise.

Responding to the research, professor Anders Hakansson from Lund University noted the differences in the type of gambling done by men and women.

"We have to consider the face that the gambling market is very different now... mainly with the high proportion of gambling happening online," he said in an appearance on Radio Sweden, as reported by the BBC. "Women who do seek treatment are more likely to report online casino gambling than men do."

Other studies have found that women are particularly drawn to slots - which are particularly addictive - when they play at online casinos, whereas men prefer games such as poker.

Many countries are considering changes to advertising regulations in a bid to get a grip over rising gambling addiction, with a rise in marketing towards women having been noted.

What is certain is that gambling addiction in women is getting much more attention now.


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