“I lost £ 50,000 in six days after being drawn into the betting world by £ 1 slots”

Record numbers of women are becoming addicted to gambling, statistics show.

There has been a 132% year-over-year increase in women seeking help with their betting habits. But the Gordon Moody charity estimates that only 3% of female drug addicts seek help.

He revealed the figures just months before the world’s first female-only residential treatment center opened in the Midlands.

Matthew Hickey, chief executive of the charity, explained that in recent years the number of advertisements for online gambling sites aimed specifically at women has increased significantly.

He said: “Covid has highlighted a crisis that requires urgent attention.

“There is no doubt that women suffer even more than men from the guilt and shame surrounding gambling addiction, which is why we need to get the message across that the support is there.”

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A woman plays a one-armed bandit


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Lisa at her Las Vegas wedding to Gary

A YouGov survey, conducted last month for the gaming awareness charity GamCare, showed that women are 30% more likely to play ‘instant win’ games, just as likely to play online as men and three times more likely to play bingo.

Public Health England also reports that if 0.5% of Britons are problem gamblers, 7% are negatively affected, which equates to five million people.

Stacey Goodwin knows all too well the damage gambling can do. The 29-year-old has already lost £ 50,000 in just six days after being drawn into the betting world by £ 1 slots.

Stacey, who worked at a betting shop, says she originally vowed never to start gambling. But at the age of 19, she decided to have a float.

“Before I knew it my life was in tatters,” Stacey said.

“I regularly gambled my entire month’s payday on payday, took massive loans that I could never hope to repay, and considered killing myself. It seemed the only way out.

With the support of her mother, Stacey started dating Gamblers Anonymous groups, but said, “Everyone seemed to be a middle-aged man. I felt I was in the wrong place.

Three years ago, Stacey contacted Gordon Moody and attended a four-day rehabilitation retreat which she said “changed everything.”

“I understood my triggers, accepted my addiction, and developed tools to help me recover,” she said.

“It wasn’t easy, but the advisers didn’t shame me.

Now in recovery, and with the help of Gamban software blocking gaming apps and websites on her phone, Stacey speaks openly about her journey on TikTok – using the Good Girl Gambler grip.

Stacey, of Chesterfield, Derbys, said: “I get 40 to 50 messages every day from players asking for help. They just don’t know where to turn.

“It was two full years after my rehab retirement before I spoke about my own addiction.

“It’s only now, with fresh eyes, that I can see how much the gaming industry is geared towards women, with the ‘pink’ bingo and female characters in online gambling. It’s a multi-billion pound industry that knows exactly what it’s doing.

Stacey believes that one of the reasons women are reluctant to talk about gambling is that few female celebrities have talked about it publicly.

“You have dozens of footballers, snooker players, etc. They are all men. A gamer develops a gambling addiction and thinks she’s the odd one out, ”she said.

“There must be hundreds of famous women who blew it up at gambling. The fact that they hide their addiction adds to the problem.

GamStop, which launched its free tool to block gambling on mobile devices in 2018, reported its 250,000th user last week.

More than a third of the people registered for the software are women.

Addiction counselor Steve Pope has seen a 400% increase in the number of women contacting him since the start of the pandemic.

He also explained that gambling addiction has the highest suicide attempt rate of all addictions, at 82%.

“It’s because it’s so easy to hide,” he says.

“When the going gets tough, drug addicts experience an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame.

“It’s a buzz that, unlike alcohol or drugs, seems to be harmless, so a mom at home with the kids has a line float and before she knows it, she has blew up her universal credit and can’t pay the bills. ”

Rebecca Sparkes, an addiction psychotherapist, told how players had previously been turned off by the male-dominated environments of betting shops, but that had “changed completely.”

She said: “Since the pandemic, more women have used online gambling sites – not because other activities were not available, but to relieve stress.

“A client tells me that she ‘enters a complete fantasy world’ while playing. It’s an easy and seemingly risk-free escape from a difficult reality.

“I had nowhere to live and two children, but I still couldn’t stop”

Mother-of-two Lisa Walker has managed to hide the extent of his gambling addiction from her husband, even on his wedding night four years ago.

While Gary and all the guests were drinking champagne, the teetotal Lisa rushed straight to the casino.

Lisa, 49, said: “I had designed things so we got married in Las Vegas, but all I had in mind was to play roulette.

“I blew thousands. I even called the UK for a £ 2,000 payday loan.

Back home, Lisa called her son Danny to ask for help paying off the loan. But in 30 minutes, she spent all the money he gave her at a betting shop.

“That, for me, was the lowest,” Lisa said.

“After decades of gambling, lying and cheating, I knew I had to get help.”

Lisa, from Rainham, east London, had started gambling when she was only eight years old, playing cards during recess at school for money.

For her 18th birthday, her father took her to a casino – but it wasn’t until Lisa was 29 that her gambling got out of hand.

She recalls: “I went to Rendezvous Casino in Southend where I got a Royal Flush and won £ 127,000.

“Instead of paying off my mortgage, which I could have done twice, I couldn’t resist the hustle and bustle of the casino and wasted it all.”

Lisa now helps other gambling addicts


Phil Harris)

Even with Danny and his disabled daughter Georgia to look after, the then single mom couldn’t stop – and in 2012 Lisa filed for bankruptcy, having remortgage her house three times and losing an estimated 500,000. £.

She said: “I was homeless with two children and even then I was still playing.”

Lisa attended her first Gamblers Anonymous reunion in 2018 and last month started a new job at the gaming charity, Bet Know More.

She even got the funding to start her own player support group called New Beginnings.

Lisa said: “Every person knows a problem gambler who hides his addiction. If by telling my story I can help one woman get her life back, it will be worth it. “

“I got so addicted that I even played at a friend’s funeral”

Working for a charity supporting drug addicts and alcoholics didn’t stop Kerri Nicolls from becoming addicted to gambling – and she didn’t recognize her own addiction until years later.

Kerri, 39, said: ‘A little over 10 years ago I decided to bet £ 1 on a football match – and I won. I was pretty much addicted from that point on.

Kerri was then offered a ‘free’ credit of £ 200 with Bet365 and then downloaded several betting apps to her phone.

“I was taking loans and maxing out credit cards, hiding my losses, still desperate to get them all back,” Kerri said.

“I was so addicted that I even performed at a friend’s funeral.”

Kerri was so addicted that she even asked her partner to take out a loan


Kerri Nicolls)

In 2013, she persuaded her partner to take out a £ 12,000 loan to help him pay off his ‘student debt’, but it was just a trick to get more money to gamble.

Within two years she had accumulated £ 45,000 in debt and was forced to admit she had a problem.

Her father agreed to repay the money in the form of a loan – but Kerri was offered more credit and therefore continued to gamble, betting £ 5,000 at a time on sporting events around the world .

When the truth about her addiction was finally revealed, Kerri’s relationship fell apart and she returned home, where she suffered from thoughts of suicide.

Her mother insisted that Kerri visited her GP, who referred her to a crisis team. She then joined Gamblers Anonymous, started a peer support program at GamCare, and enlisted the help of Gordon Moody.

In 2019 Kerri, from North Devon, got a job as a peer support worker with the charity. “I know how difficult it can be to come forward as a female gambling addict,” she said.

“I felt like I could never stop, but now I’m stronger and happier than I’ve ever been. Of course, I lost over £ 100,000, but now I have a new partner, a job that is beyond measure – and I’m alive.

■ For help, call 01384 241292 or visit gordonmoody.org.uk. You can also call 0808 8020 133 or visit gamcare.org.uk. Download free gambling limitation software to any smartphone or laptop from gamstop.co.uk

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