Gender & Gambling: Is There a Link?

Can Gender Affect The Way You Play…?

Casino men vs women

We’re sure you’ve all noticed there are a lot more women than men in your favourite bingo rooms. In fact, there has been a huge increase in all types of gambling among women in recent years, alongside an increase in heavy drinking and drugs. However, studies indicate that men are still far more likely to gamble and develop gambling problems than women.

Women are also far more likely to seek treatment for their gambling issues than men. Ironically, this leads to equal numbers of men and women in treatment, because fewer men are willing admit themselves into rehabilitation, despite the fact that more of them gamble. Women are also more cooperative in their recovery; 56% of women vs 36% of men. Mind you, 82% of problem gamblers are able to self-help themselves without treatment, and most of these are men. Furthermore, while men are much more likely to develop a chronic gambling problem, women are more likely to develop depression or other mood disorders as a result of excessive gambling.

Girlfriend Blowing On Boyfriend's DiceWhile gambling has historically been a masculine interest, it is clear we are seeing a lot more women getting involved as legalised gambling expands. This is especially true for ‘friendly-faced’ gambling styles like bingo and even the lottery, which aren’t normally associated with debauchery. This certainly fits in with the fact that women seem to ‘‘telescope’’ – they start gambling late in life compared to men, but then rapidly become more obsessive.

Men prefer games of skill like tables, perhaps due to a stronger sense of control or higher levels of competitiveness against fellow players. Likewise, new findings from the Stanford University proves that men find playing video games more rewarding, again alluding to competitive drive in another form of addiction. On the other hand, several researchers suggest women prefer fast-paced, low thought games like slots, distracted by bright colours and cheerful music. Unfortunately, such games can develop into problem gambling much more quickly.

Why are all these differences in gambling behaviours between men and women? It could be biological, hormonal, genetic, but it could also very likely be social. After all, other social factors have been proven to correlate with certain play-styles, including marital status, race, legal problems, and income (although this last point is somewhat more rational).

To sum up, gender can certainly influence how you gamble, whether you gamble and even when you gamble, but gender is still only one piece of a much larger puzzle. After all, we’re pretty sure that some men prefer slots and some women prefer poker. Gender differences exist, but they don’t rule us. Our personalities are too complex for that.

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