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Problem gambling can sometimes be thought as an issue that’s mostly for men, but the number of women gamblers is increasing and should not be ignored. Gambling destroys lives equally, regardless of gender.

Compulsive gambling can be triggered by a range of factors that differ for everyone, but there are certain common challenges that women face which tend to contribute more than others. Here’s a look at how and why some women become compulsive gamblers.

Need for Escape

The majority of women who experience problems with gambling meet the criteria of an Escape Gambler – a person looking for an escape from everyday life for a variety of different emotional reasons.

Escape gamblers generally have not experienced problem gambling as a lifelong challenge, but rather come to it later in life and are seeking to lift a low mood by immersing in a game. It’s often a way to self-medicate for stress.

You may have gambled without issue for many years on things like bingo, slot machines or video poker but now, through escapism, you can experience a detachment from your life and various issues.

This detachment is exactly what makes escape gambling dangerous, and why all too many women experience issues incredibly quickly. It’s easy to detach from the financial and social toll gambling is taking on your life when the game encourages escapism.

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Lifestyle Changes

Most women do not begin gambling socially until they reach their mid-forties, which is much later than most men. However, gambling for women can cause problems rapidly in a process sometimes called “telescoping” 

Significant lifestyle changes are often a factor for the onset of compulsive gambling. It’s important not to under-estimate the affect moving, retirement, divorce, and even children leaving home can have on your mental health and stress levels.


Around 95 percent of women gamblers participate alone and in secret, reflecting their wish to escape. Gambling isn’t a sport for you to perform for others, it’s a way to process life and relationships. While initially satisfying, this is why the gambling experience can become incredibly isolating as a result, it might seem like there’s nobody to talk to who will understand. 

Talking might seem like the last thing you want to do, but compulsive gambling is not something to be ashamed of and seeking advice is exactly the best way to combat your challenges. Seek professional advice.

Women compulsive gambling. Hand holding.

Help is Available

Women might seem like they are in the minority with problem gambling but the reality among those aged 45 to 64, women problem gamblers actually outnumber men according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Women problem gamblers are increasing year on year, and with it the need to offer specialized treatment for people wishing to escape through gambling. 

The key to seeking treatment is to remember that you are not alone. We help many women overcome their challenges, and create healthy stress-coping mechanisms through our treatment programs. If you, or someone you know, needs help addressing a gambling problem, you can call us today for a no obligation consultation on how to get the best help. You can also find local resources at the National Council on Problem Gambling.


Topics: Gambling Addiction, Women

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.