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The Changing Face of Female Gambling

11 August 2004

The Changing Face of Female Gambling

Female gamblers account for more than 50% of gamblers calling the Gambling Helpline and calls from male 'significant others' - including husbands, partners and fathers - are on the rise, at nearly 30% in 2003 compared to just over 20% in 1999. The Gambling Helpline received more than 20,000 calls in 2003.

However, the increase in female gambling is not restricted to New Zealand; it's a trend that is occurring in Australia, the US and Canada, and was the subject of the recent US National Council on Problem Gambling conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Gambling Helpline Chief Executive, Gary Clifford attended the Arizona conference in June and says the event highlighted the lack of information and research available on gender issues involved with gambling and problem gambling.

"More women are gambling now than in the past, and more women are developing gambling problems. However, we know very little about what triggers women to gamble excessively, the risk factors to look out for, and the types of awareness and prevention messages that are most effective for females.

"We do know that women are most likely to gamble on pokie machines. They tend to start gambling later in life than men but they progress more rapidly into gambling problems than men," says Mr Clifford. "However, this may be a reflection of their use of gaming machines rather than, say, sports betting."

Mr Clifford says research by Dr Rachel Volberg in the US has linked the rise in female gambling to the increasing availability and accessibility of pokie machines.

"Pokie machines are widely perceived to be a low-risk, non-competitive and fun way to gamble - despite being highly addictive to some people. They also tend to be located in environments where women may feel physically and emotionally comfortable, such as pubs, clubs and hotels."

Mr Clifford urges anyone concerned about their own gambling, or that of someone close to them, to seek advice as early as possible. The Gambling Helpline offers self-checks and other tools on its website ( ) to help people identify problem gambling. Even some simple questions can give an insight to potential problems such as:

-When it comes to money, do you feel that this person cannot be trusted?
-Does the person constantly return to gambling in order to try and recover losses, or win more?
-Does the person have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family wealth and material comfort, or do they gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?
-Does this person continually lie to cover up or deny their gambling activities?

The Gambling Helpline provides a range of confidential and free support, counselling, referral and information services, for gamblers and those affected by problem gambling. For more information call 0800 654 655.


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