Gambling is sometimes seen as an activity that mostly men participate in, but it is common among women in Scotland and the gap between men and women’s participation is narrowing. In 2021 over half of women in Scotland (56%) participated in gambling.68The Scottish Health Survey 2021 - volume 1: main report - ( This is 16% higher than among women in England.69Gambling behaviour - NHS Digital

Among women in Scotland, the most common gambling activities include:70Gambling behaviour - NHS Digital

  • National Lottery and other lotteries
  • Scratchcards
  • Bingo in-person
  • Online gambling on slots, casino, or bingo games

There are increasing reports of gambling operators targeting women, including young women and new mothers, in a “predatory” effort to expand their customer base.71Gambling firm allegedly paid blogs to link new mothers to its online games | Gambling | The Guardian; Sportsbet is targeting young women on TikTok to diversify male client base, experts say | Gambling | The Guardian; gambling-roundtable-report.pdf (


Women’s experiences of gambling harm can be different to men’s. For example, women often move more quickly from starting gambling to experiencing harm from their gambling, a process called ‘telescoping.’72Manuscript.pdf ( Sharman

Gambling is linked with lower wellbeing, and this is particularly true among women – women who gamble have lower average wellbeing scores than men who gamble.73The Scottish Health Survey 2021 - volume 1: main report - ( Women seeking support around gambling are also more likely to present with substance use or mental health issues such as anxiety, or depression.74Manuscript.pdf ( Sharman

Risk of harm may also be affected by life events and experiences that are most common among women including:


Pregnancy and the post natal period

The post-natal period can be an isolating time for new mothers, and 1 in 10 experience post-natal depression within a year of giving birth.75 

Reports indicate that gambling operators are increasingly targeting new mums with paid-for blogs on trusted parenting sites, suggesting gambling as a way of coping with isolation or to ”provide some handy winnings".76



Lived experiences from women indicate that changes around menopause can be a trigger that drives or escalates gambling activities.77Holding-it-all-together-and-picking-up-the-pieces-Womens-experiences-of-gambling-and-crime.pdf (


Abuse and intimate partner violence

Women experiencing harm from their gambling are more likely to have experienced trauma or abuse. Living in a home with an abusive partner, or having a violent partner, are also risk factors for experiencing gambling difficulties among women.78Manuscript.pdf ( Sharman

Women are more likely to be affected by the gambling of someone else compared to men.79 


Going into debt or losing your home, which may be connected to economic abuse by a partner 


Experience of abuse, with gambling acting as a trigger.


Mental and physical health problems due to living in fear, anger, guilt, loss, and uncertainty.

Stigmatisation around women and gambling can stop women from reaching out or accessing support. A roundtable by the Scottish Women’s Convention found that many women who participate in gambling activities do not consider themselves ‘gamblers’ - rather they see these activities as normalised social pastimes.80Roundtable Report, The Scottish Women’s Convention – Gambling Harm 

Stigma is particularly powerful for those experiencing harm from their own or someone else’s gambling. Among people experiencing the most harm, stigma (e.g. ‘feeling embarrassed’ or ‘not wanting people to find out’) is the most common barrier that keeps them from accessing support.81 Among those with a PGSI score of 8+, stigma was the most common barrier for not seeking support (40%).