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Gender gap highlighted in new gambling study

Men gamble more often, with more money and are at greater risk of developing gambling problems than women, according to a new study commissioned by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

The study examines the similarities and differences between men and women gamblers using data from the Foundation's 2008 A Study of Gambling in Victoria, Australia's first large scale general population gambling study of 15,000 Victorian adults.

Foundation chief executive officer Serge Sardo says the comparative study provides valuable insight into the behaviour and motivations of Victorian gamblers.

"When we look at people's motivations to gamble we can see men were significantly more likely than women to gamble for social reasons or for general entertainment, while women were more likely to gamble for charity or because gambling relieved stress, loneliness and boredom," he said.

Overall, there were higher rates of participation in most forms of gambling among men, particularly skill-based gambling and sports betting, whereas women preferred games of chance and were more likely to play the pokies, scratch tickets, bingo, phone / SMS competitions and raffles, sweeps and competitions.

Lead researcher Nerilee Hing from the Centre for Gambling Education and Research (CGER) at Southern Cross University says the study showed significant differences between men and women with gambling problems.

"The study shows a higher prevalence of problem gambling among men at 1.3 per cent compared to women at 0.6 per cent, with even higher prevalence rates among participants who reported having a history of problem gambling,"

"However, while problem gambling prevalence is lower in women, their gambling problems are largely related to playing the pokies, and we can also see that older women are more likely to play the pokies than younger women," she said.

Mr Sardo says this research will inform the Foundation's efforts to reduce gambling-related harm in Victoria.

"By examining the gambling preferences and motivations of Victorian men and women, the researchers have identified a number of risk factors for developing gambling problems, and which high risk groups would benefit from targeted interventions by the Foundation," he said.

High risk groups identified in the study include people who gamble frequently, young gamblers aged 18-24 years, older women who play the pokies, non-English speaking populations, and gamblers who are motivated by escapism.

"This information will directly inform our efforts around targeted awareness, prevention and education activities as well as how we promote support services to Victorians experiencing problems with gambling," he said.

A comparative study of men and women gamblers in Victoria was funded as part of the Foundation's fourth round of the Grants for Gambling Research Program, and was completed by a group of researchers including Nerilee Hing and Alex Russell from Southern Cross University, Barry Tolchard from the University of New England, and Lia Nower from Rutgers University.

The fifth report of the Victorian Gambling Study was published by the Foundation in August 2014.

Download the report – A comparative study of men and women gamblers in Victoria (PDF - 1547.7 KB)

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Fiona Skivington, Manager, Media & Communication
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