More and more women are trying online gambling for the first time, a phenomenon that will need to be thoroughly researched in the coming years, according to researcher Sylvia Kairouz.

A 2021 study of 4,500 Quebecers found that a greater proportion of women report having started or migrated to online gambling during the pandemic, although their male counterparts are more likely to s indulge in such activities.

While gambling has generally been associated with men, women are also not immune to suffering from an addiction linked to problematic habits, argues Sylvia Kairouz, full professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology from Concordia University. Through around a hundred interviews conducted with participants in the study, the researcher noted distinct trends between the two, particularly with regard to the type of game preferred.

“Women end up with totally gambling games, while men are more likely to go for poker and table games. By making these choices, and having these tastes, the risk is much greater for women, “said Sylvia Kairouz.

Slots, scratchers, lottery tickets: Research indicates that females frequently use these games for escape and relaxation, as well as to escape reality. Unlike men who seek thrilling gaming experiences, women tend to opt for longer games that involve lower stakes.

“A lot of times they’ll tell us, ‘we feel a bit hypnotized when we’re playing, we take our minds off things and we chill out.’ It is for this reason that scratchers – especially those that take a long time to scratch – and slot machines, women like it a lot, “said Anne Elizabeth Lapointe, general manager of Maison Jean Lapointe, in an interview.

Statistics Canada data from August 2022 also shows that higher proportions of women than men reported playing bingo (5.7% vs. 2.1%) and buying instant lottery tickets or played online games (34.8% vs. 31.1%).

The same survey noted that among people who gambled in the 12 months prior to the surveys, 2% of men and about 1% of women were at moderate to high risk of developing addiction problems, or about 304 000 Canadians.

“Women often make fewer requests for help than men in terms of addiction. They are still very stigmatized, while they are clearly targeted by the industry, whether it is alcohol or otherwise, specifies Ms. Lapointe. […] What stops women is a lot of shame and guilt. »

Although the gap in participation in online games is narrowing between the sexes, research models have long been thought of according to the habits of men. Women remain underrepresented in surveys, and their results tend to be generalized. For Ms. Kairouz, the phenomenon of female addictions must be targeted in order to allow future studies to better address it.

“The data, if you don’t make a distinction with women, is much more reflective of the male reality. […] We know that that of women is totally different: the meaning they give to the game and the function of escape and compensation in their lives are much more present”, she underlines.

A next data collection will take place from April to September, adds the researcher, which will allow us to paint a more complete portrait of the situation over a period of more than two years.

“It’s really one of my areas of research, the relationship between gender and gambling. We will be able to observe the trajectories of the participants, and if they are the same for men and women. The gender dimension is going to be extremely important for us,” she said.