Middle Class Women Fuel Rise in UK Online Gaming

An article published earlier in the year said that in the UK online gambling will generate £2 billion this year. The rise is fueled by middle class women using online gambling sites. In the internet bingo sector women dominate and over 80% of all players are women. Some fear a rise in gambling addiction among women. Some experts say that as many as one million people could be at risk of becoming problem gamblers. The internet allows players to bet excessively without the ‘social stigma’ associated with problem gambling.

The proportion of women who gamble has risen by a third and women account for over half of all online gamblers in the UK. Anti-gambling campaigners have say that problem gambling is as serious a problem as alcoholism. They have also called for regulations to protect children from aggressive advertisements and promotions for gambling sites. The increase in online gambling came after the Labor government lifted a media ban on advertising for online casinos, bookmakers, bingo sites and online betting sites as part of the gambling act of 2005 that went into effect in 2007.

The rash of gambling commercials helped online gambling revenues to rise to £1.71 billion in 2011. The figure is expected to break the two billion mark this year. Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, the head of the National Problem Gambling Clinic told reporters “The proliferation of online gambling has brought into the home an activity that was historically male dominated. Women patients have reported that online gambling has made it possible for them to gamble excessively without the fear of social stigma.” She said some of her clients are mothers who would gamble while children are present. Bowden-Jones added “We need to protect children from gambling-related material appearing on their mobile phones and computer screens. If we manage this, we will be ensuring a safer future for our children.”

Several politicians have voiced concerns. There is one gambling sector that does not have much of a problem with problem gamblers; internet bingo. Compared to other online gambling sectors internet bingo players have a relatively low rate of gambling addiction. Most bingo games are not played for high stakes and most problem gamblers look for huge jackpots. At most internet bingo sites players can set weekly or monthly spending limits and at some sites problem gamblers have the option of self-exclusion. Most internet bingo sites in the UK provide links and information about organizations that treat problem gamblers.