UK Study Says Female Problem Gambling Higher in Black, Asian, Ethnic Minorities

  • 35% of female gamblers who experienced high levels of harm come from a BAME background
  • Pattern mirrored in male BAME gamblers, with 29% topping the male problem gaming index 
  • BAME women are more likely to experience harm as a result of someone else's gambling
  • Women cite social stigma and embarrassment as barriers preventing them from seeking help
Playing cards on top of British currency
A report commissioned by the UK charity GambleAware reports a higher percentage of black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) women fall within the problem gambling index. [Image:]

BAME background women at higher risk

Research completed for UK charity GambleAware by YouGov shows that over a third of female problem gamblers in the United Kingdom come from a black, Asian, or minority ethnic (BAME) background.

The survey from YouGov’s online panel of UK adults found that 35% of female gamblers who experienced high levels of harm – scoring 8+ on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) – are from a BAME background, compared to 12% of the overall female population. 

A PGSI score of 1-2 represents low risk, while 3-7 is classified as moderate risk, and scores of 8+ are deemed problem gamblers.

Male gamblers show a similar statistical profile. 29% of men with a PGSI score of 8+ originate from a BAME background versus 12% of men overall. In total, 10% of women scored one or higher on the PGSI index, lower than the proportion of UK men (17%) within the same score bracket.

Disproportionately affected by others’ gambling

BAME women are also more prone to experiencing harm as a result of someone else’s gambling. Of the 8% of women fitting into this “affected other” category, 16% hail from a BAME background. Researchers also revealed that females are more negatively influenced by the gambling of a close family member than men.

an important first step”

Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, said that in light of discovering how women experience gambling harms in different ways to men, the report represented “an important first step” toward understanding how women are impacted.

Highlighting that the research was commissioned to help treatment providers “address any barriers people may face” when accessing help and support for their gambling, Etches added in the press release that it was essential that services are flexible and meet the needs of individuals. Last year, one UK expert said curing a drug habit was easier than quitting gambling.

Stigma a hurdle to seeking treatment

One of the key factors in female gamblers not wanting treatment or support in cutting down gambling was the perceived stigma in seeking help, the report said. Nearly two in five women (39%) cited emotions such as embarrassment and fear of people finding out as barriers preventing them from seeking help.

Over a quarter (27%), however, said that having the option of self-referral and knowing easily accessible support was available over the telephone – either online or face to face – would be a motivating factor.

support to help reduce and prevent gambling harms among women”

Anna Hemmings, CEO of GamCare, said the report outlined the “opportunities available to service providers to help increase take-up of treatment and support to help reduce and prevent gambling harms among women.” As an independent UK charity, GamCare provides support and treatment for problem gamblers while helping to raise awareness about gambling harm and responsible gambling.

Hemmings reported that the treatment network she represents, in tandem with the National Gambling Treatment Service, was working with women to better understand the barriers they faced and to ensure they have access to services “regardless of their gender or background.”

A report published in May suggested that the problem gambling rate in the UK could account for 2.7% of the adult population, a total of 1.4 million people.

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