GambleAware has launched a new campaign targeting female gamblers, releasing a video featuring television and radio personality Angellica Bell.

The video, published on the responsible gambling charity’s YouTube channel, sees Bell discuss  gambling harm faced by women with Liz Karter MBE, a gambling addiction counsellor, and GP Dr Ellie Cannon.

Dr Cannon remarked: “Guilt is a really uncomfortable emotion, particularly for women, and guilt around excessive gambling can be from not spending time with loved ones, spending too much time on gambling apps, as well as guilt around financial matters – spending money that should be used elsewhere.

“”What we know is that guilt can actually lead to mental health problems and mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.”

Both Dr Cannon and GambleAare have promoted three key warning signs to female bettors – losing track of time; spending more than can be afforded; and keeping gambling secret from friends and family.

The responsible gambling and harm minimisation charity has detailed that 39% of women may refrain from seeking help or treatment for problem gambling due to perceived stigma, embarrassment or simply not wanting people to know about their betting activity.

“Many women develop a problem with gambling because they’re using it to escape from a trap,” Karter added. 

“That situation causes them so much stress, depression or anxiety, that they cannot tolerate being in their own thoughts and feelings.”

Speaking to Tracy, a woman from Essex who had been impacted by gamlbing-rleated harm, Bell heard some insights into a lived experience of problem betting. 

“The hardest thing I had to deal with was being in such a male dominated arena.,” Tracy explained. “Gmabling addiction in women has accelerated and it is nothing to be ashamed of, and there is much help out there.”

GambleAware also detailed that the number of women receiving treatment for gambling has doubled over the past five years, rising from 1,134 from 2015/16 to 2,424 in 2020/21.

The charity maintains that only “a fraction of those who are experiencing gambling harms” use the National Gambling Treatments Service (NGTS) or the National Helpline, despite a ‘growing number’ accessing these services. 

GamblesAware’s new campaign – which will sit alongside existing initiatives such as its ‘Bet Regret’ programme –  follows a period in which the charity has become increaisngly invested in investigating the impact of harmful gambling on women, having awarded a £250,000 grant to research team exploring the topic in November 2021

“We are launching this new gambling harm prevention campaign at a time when there may be up to a million women at risk of gambling harms,” said Zoe Osmund, GambleAware CEO.

“Our research shows women may not be aware they are starting to experience harm from gambling or, may be worried about reaching out for support due to stigma or shame. 

“That’s why our campaign highlights the warning signs to look out for, so we can support women who gamble and prevent them from developing gambling harms.”

Angellica Bell fronts GambleAware women’s campaign