Video report by ITV News Reporter Stacey Foster
The world’s first gambling treatment centre devoted exclusively for women will open in the Midlands next year, as shocking new data has revealed the huge rise in women seeking help for addiction.
Exclusive new figures from the Gordon Moody Association, a charity which helps some of the most severely addicted gamblers, has shown a 76% year-on-year rise in the number of women seeking help through their services.
This accounts for more than 90,000 women across the UK - the highest figure ever recorded.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced a review into the Gambling Act amid claims the law is not fit for purpose in the age of online gambling.
Matthew Hickey, CEO of the Gordon Moody Association, said Covid has had “big impact” on the profile of people who are seeking help for their gambling in the past year.
“The number of people who are most in crisis and in need of treatment has increased,” Mr Hickey said.
“The number of women in particular who need treatment in particular has increased. And also the complexity of the issues young people have has increased. Not only are they coming to us with a gambling issue, they’re also coming to us with another addiction, such as drugs.”
Kelly Field is one of the thousands of women across the UK whose life has been affected by gambling.
She started gambling when playing bingo while off work, but her gambling escalated, leaving her more than £70,000 in debt and on the verge of suicide.
Ms Field said: “You cross that invisible line with gambling addiction. I think that because it’s a leisure activity which you do through choice and it’s fun, but then you cross that invisible line and it’s no longer fun.
“It took me a while to realise it was an addiction. But I think the realisation is that you have to be online, every minute of every day. You’re spending excessive amounts of money, you’re cancelling dates with friends, you’re cancelling other things. It just takes over your life.”
Ms Field had multiple relapses and is still paying off the debts now. Although it has left her in debt, the impact gambling had on her personal life has had the most damaging lasting effect.
“It’s not just monetary value that you lose… it’s time you’ve lost and the friends that you lose from spending all your time gambling.”
Matt Zarb-Cousin, Director of Clean Up Gambling, said: "This wide ranging review is a long overdue opportunity to clean up our outdated gambling laws, which are incompatible with the smartphone era.
“While the government's commitment to raising the minimum age to 18 for the National Lottery is welcome, it is just the start.
“This review has the potential to make Britain a world leader in gambling harm prevention: where online gambling is fair and safe, stake limits minimise addiction, and systems are put in place to prevent unaffordable losses."