While many people gamble without consequence, for a small percentage of the population, harms do develop as a result of engagement with gambling behaviours. In Ottawa alone, it is estimated that approximately 9000 women experience serious harm as a result of their gambling. Women who develop problems with gambling come from diverse backgrounds in terms of culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, age, ability, and relationship status.

As a community, Ottawa offers several opportunities for gambling and access to this activity must be understood as one risk factor, among many, for developing problems. Aside from casual and informal opportunities, Ontario also offers a number of more explicit venues where people can gamble via the lottery, Bingo, and casino slots and card games. Aside from the Slots at Rideau Carleton, people also have access to casinos in Gatineau, Montreal, Gananoque, and Akwesane.

Various other risk factors contribute to the development of gambling problems among women. For example, familial histories of addiction or past experiences with substance use may place women at higher risk of developing problems with gambling. Like women who use substances, there is a high correlation between experiences of violence in childhood and/or adulthood and the development of problem gambling. Further, there is also a strong relationship between problem gambling, violence, and mental health issues. As a result, Amethyst works from the philosophy that we cannot “treat” a woman’s problem gambling in isolation; we must understand the context in which she has developed her relationship to gambling. Because of women’s unequal access to power in our society, alongside multiple and intersecting identities that also marginalize women, women often experience harsher judgement and consequence as a result of their problem gambling.

While women engage in many forms of gambling, the most commonly problematic forms of gambling among women in our community are slots, lottery, and Bingo.

For more information about women and problem gambling, or to discuss the possibility of professional workshops, please contact