More women 'becoming addicted to online bingo' report warns

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MORE women are becoming addicted to gambling – often to online bingo – bucking perceptions that it is mainly a male problem.

A report to councillors in Hull says staff in local services have seen an increase in problem gambling among women, with online bingo the most frequently cited form.

A woman uses an internet gambling website to play online roulette. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

A woman uses an internet gambling website to play online roulette. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

One service provider, quoted in the report, being discussed on Monday, said: “It’s not just about men going into the bookies any more...

“These women have never been in a betting shop in their lives but I’ve seen women who have maxed four credit cards spending £20,000 online without having to leave the house.”

Another said the way people gambled had changed, adding: “Previously it was mostly males getting into debt gambling in betting shops, but now the trend is changing and we’re seeing women getting hooked on online bingo sites.

"It doesn’t mean the issue has lessened with regards to men, but we’re seeing more women having issues now as well.”

It is likely that people in the city are gambling more money "than ever before", the report warns, because of the growth in online gambling, with 32 per cent of adults gambling in the past four weeks, 18 per cent doing so online.

Estimates suggest locally between 1,674 and 3,676 people over the age of 16 could experience the urge to gamble continuously, despite harmful consequences or a desire to stop.

In addition there may be as many as 233 problem gamblers in Hull, aged just 11 to 15.

Gambling is also becoming an increasing problem among youngsters, with a fourfold increase from 0.4 per cent in 2016 to 1.7 per cent in 2018.

One factor is that the difference between gambling and video gaming “is becoming harder to distinguish in some video games”.

The number of children aged 11 to 16 gambling (14 per cent) is higher than those drinking alcohol (13 per cent), smoking cigarettes (four per cent) and taking illegal drugs (two per cent).

However despite the problem, there is no nationally mandated school-based education programme for youngsters like those which target smoking, alcohol or sex education.

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The report updates councillors on recommendations made to improve the situation.

Last month the charity GambleAware opened the Northern Gambling Clinic in Leeds, the first in the country outside London.

It aims to serve as a support for people across the north with gambling problems. Training is also being delivered to staff in Hull this month and next to identify and support people with problems.

And a pilot project run by the charity GamCare is also being set up which funds outreach workers to provide free gambling awareness workshops for youngsters.