Online bingo addiction?

Bingo, a game affiliated with grade school children and church fund raising, has traditionally been considered a harmless and “light” form of gambling. I remember playing bingo at school and the first $10 I ever won was when I was 11 years old on vacation in the Caribbean. No one even considered it to be gambling.

But today, you can play Bingo online at a wide variety of websites.  And you can win or lose quite a lot of money over time. Many of these sites purposely target women. Most female gamblers are closet gamblers. They are not proud of their habit and don’t brag about winnings. The Internet is a perfect spot for them to learn and then to hide their habit. So it can be a little harder to discover the gambling  problem and offer help. And many women gamblers never gambled when they were younger, but discovered gambling later in life. So their families and loved ones would never suspect that they suddenly found their way into the new hobby. Often, it starts with a few harmless games of Bingo online and turns to more serious games for higher stakes.

It is estimated that 5% of the general population are compulsive gamblers, and 1/3 of those compulsive gamblers are women (www.800gambler.org). In the UK, where there is a great deal of attention being given to the growing gambling problem in the country, it is estimated that the number of female gambling addicts has doubled in the last years (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/17/women-gamblers-online-addiction).  This is almost solely due to the rise in Internet gambling availability with many sites dedicated to teaching women to gamble and some sites catering specifically to female gamblers.

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