Fancy a flutter?
Almost three-quarter of us do, apparently, and that doesn’t count nipping out to buy a £2 lottery scratchcard on a Saturday evening. The rise in online gambling sites has, according to the British Gambling Prevalance Survey (http://ow.ly/hbCjs), created a stigma-free online casino for women where we are gambling away on the virtual green baize like lambs to the slaughter. No longer hindered by the fear and embarrassment of braving the high street bookies, we are all going to the dogs by iPhone – kid in one hand, a bag of virtual gambling chips in the other.
And certainly some of the figures released at the weekend are shocking. There are 450,000 ‘problem gamblers’ in the country, a rise of 200,000 since the last such survey in 2007, and each is, on average, £17,500 in debt. That is a lot of fivers, any which way you lay them.
I’ve only ever been into a bookies once. I found it all a bit scary and intimidating – the blokeish lingo, all those weird hand gestures and wads of cash changing hands. Frankly, I’d have felt more comfortable walking onto a building site in a bikini. But it was an emergency.
Harold, my dapper dandy of a neighbour, was laid up with flu. It was Derby Day and he’d been given a tip he couldn’t afford to pass up, so he coached me over the phone and gave me precise instructions on where to go and what to say. I managed it, and we won! We celebrated by blowing our winnings on Champagne and fish and chips, but I’ve never been tempted to go in again, so I can see why women would rather bet online.
I’m sure there are cases of women gambling away their cash in online bingo games – I can imagine they can be very seductive, providing chat rooms and making it ever more difficult to cash in your winnings even if you are ahead. But I can hardly believe there’s an army of mums out there gambling away the week’s fish finger money online! Surely those who want to can enjoy a flutter and are sensible enough to know when to stop?
For me, I’d rather get my online kicks from browsing eBay, but hey, maybe I’m missing out. Let me know.