Only Men Are Gambling Addicts and 5 Other Myths

October 20, 2020

GP_20201020_Gambling Addiction Myths

Safe gambling advocate and support provider, GamCare, released their first report from the inaugural Women’s Programme. The aim of the initiative is to assist women, who are found to be disproportionately negatively impacted by the results of gambling addiction, in sharing their struggles and ultimately overcoming them.

A survey by GamCare highlighted three key points:

  • Women who gamble report significant financial losses, with many reporting losses in the tens of thousands.
  • Shame and stigma are significant barriers for those identifying as female to engaging with support services. Respondents reported that societal expectations of women – i.e. as needing to be ‘good mothers’ and/or homemakers – still need to be tackled.
  • The universal issue reported was a detrimental impact on their mental health.

To this end 2020 has seen GamCare work to counter the numerous social barriers which have stopped women from asking for, and receiving, the help they need in combating gambling addiction in their own lives and in dealing with cases where a loved one is the addict but they are left carrying the burden in their stead.

Gambling Addiction is a Male Problem. False!

One of the most insidious lies that women with gambling addiction or compulsive gambling tendencies have faced is that of it being a man’s problem, not something a woman should be concerned with.

As part of a qualitative survey of the participants in the Women’s Programme, it was found that 71% of the surveyed women found themselves facing issues around gambling debt which leads to a negative impact on health and wellbeing, causes strain in the family and in 43% of the respondents has led to thoughts of suicide.

Anna Hemmings, Chief Executive of GamCare, said:

“The issues that women are facing are often hidden from support services. We must get to grips with the unnecessary shame and stigma women feel around asking for help. Gambling is not just a male activity, and it can affect women in significant, potentially life-changing ways.”

This way of thinking denies them the help they need while simultaneously shaming them for not being perfect homemakers and caretakers.

For women dealing with a husband or another male loved one who is the gambling addict this puts them in a position where they feel they need to “shut up and deal with it” so that they will be seen as loving and supportive.

This is a myth that needs to be dealt with immediately. If you are displaying any of the signs associated with gambling addiction help is a click away, please visit our Responsible Gambling Guide for access to the support you need.

5 More Gambling Myths

Based on research by safe gambling support groups such as GamCare and the National Council on Problem Gambling here are five other misconceptions surrounding gambling addiction:

1. I’m not an addict, I don’t gamble every day.

Gambling addiction is not about how often you gamble but rather lengths to which one will go in order to gamble. Like any other addiction, it is possible to be a binge gambler who only does so periodically. The real impact is what gambling has on your mental wellbeing, whether it is a compulsion that cannot be denied and the financial and emotional impact it has on your family.

2. I don’t struggle with addiction anywhere else in my life so I can’t be a gambling addict.

The idea that in order to be addicted to gambling you also need to show signs of addiction in other parts of your life is a lie. The specific addictions we face come from our environment or a particular rush that the addiction provides. That being said studies have shown a common thread of addiction that can be traced through familial lines, if you have a family history of gambling addiction it might be best to avoid gambling altogether.

3. Gambling addiction isn’t real, it’s how weak-willed losers get their losses back.

Absolutely not. Gambling addiction is a proven addiction and has to do with an ongoing pattern of behaviour or an ingrained mindset. Whether deep in debt or fabulously wealthy the true gambling addict remains addicted despite their financial situation. When the need to gamble supplants family responsibilities, absorbs your headspace and begins to drain your bank account it is an addiction, and you need treatment.

4. I can’t become addicted, because I only bet on sporting events, I don’t play casino games.

Addiction and compulsive behaviours speak to the unshakeable urge to gamble. Whether this need drives you to play bingo, spend hours at a poker table, back your favourite football team or spin a slot machine it is this deep-seated drive, not the object of its affection, that defines one’s status as an addict.

5. Children can’t be addicted to gambling.

Sadly, this is not true. While in most countries gambling is not allowed to be offered to minors there are a growing number of children around the world showing signs of gambling addiction. In the UK alone the NHS reported that more than 55,000 children and youth are categorised as gambling addicts. The nature of the internet makes it incredibly easy for youth to gain access to an online casino or online betting site despite the legislation around minors gambling. The best way to combat this is for parents to be aware of their children’s time online and to have open discussions around addiction including gambling.