New research reveals pathways into gambling addiction in women, particularly lone parents

  • CLASS research has discovered an epidemic of online gambling in women with children, created by social isolation and lack of opportunities.
  • Single mothers become addicted in a very short period of time, with the timeframe between first spin and addiction as little as two weeks.
  • Research was carried out by CLASS and Clean Up Gambling as part of a project revealing the public health implications of the gambling industry, 17 years after the 2005 Gambling Act.
  • Findings from the report "Unlucky Dip: The Damaging Impacts of Online Gambling" were featured in The Sunday Times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a wave of gambling addictions in people with no history of addiction - particularly single mothers - a new report by the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) has revealed.

The report (available here), commissioned by Clean Up Gambling and produced by CLASS, comes in anticipation of a long-awaited government white paper which will propose an update of the 2005 Gambling Act. It uncovered:

  • Participants taking on thousands of pounds of debt, many times larger than their annual income. One participant, a mother from Glasgow, developed an addiction to online slots that left her with a quarter of a million pounds of debt in less than two years.
  • The exploitative practises of the gambling industry intersect with the UK’s payday lending infrastructure, creating the perfect storm for many who have no history of addiction to end up in serious financial jeopardy.
  • In women who are lone parents, the report found alarmingly short time frames between first spin and addiction, in some cases only a matter of weeks.
  • Far from taking measures to protect women at risk, the report uncovered that the gambling industry exploits gender differences by creating marketing campaigns targeted at women who are feeling socially isolated.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, Director of Clean Up Gambling said: “The government’s review can address some of the consequences of gambling liberalisation and our outdated laws, which are now severely impacting on women. It’s imperative that its White Paper for reform is brought forward as soon as possible, before more people are harmed as a result of not fit for purpose regulation.”

Director of CLASS, Ellie Mae O’Hagan said: “The explosion of problematic gambling amongst women is a public health crisis that needs addressing right now. Our leaders can no longer stand by while the gambling operators manipulate people into losing money so that they can line the pockets of industry bosses. It’s time for the government to step up and protect families from this predatory industry, rather than turning a blind eye.”