The pandemic has led to a surge in gambling addictions among people with no history of addiction – especially single mothers – a new report from the Center for Labor and Social Studies (CLASS) has revealed.
The report, commissioned by Clean Up Gambling, comes ahead of a long-awaited government white paper, which will propose an update to the Gambling Act 2005.
The data showed that participants took on thousands of pounds of debt, many times more than their annual income.
One participant, a mother from Glasgow, developed an addiction to online slots which left her with a quarter of a million pounds in debt in less than two years.
It also showed that single mothers had an alarming delay between first round and addiction.
Far from taking steps to protect at-risk women, the report suggests the gambling industry is exploiting gender differences by creating marketing campaigns targeting women who feel socially isolated.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, said: “The government review can address some of the consequences of the liberalization of gambling and our outdated laws, which now have a severe impact on women. It is imperative that its white paper for reform is presented as soon as possible, before more people are harmed by unsuitable regulation.
CLASS Director Ellie Mae O’Hagan said, “The explosion of problem gambling among women is a public health crisis that must be addressed now. Our leaders can no longer sit idly by while gambling operators manipulate people into losing money so they can line the pockets of industry bosses. It is time for the government to step in and protect families from this predatory industry, rather than turn a blind eye.