Women who gamble: challenging the odds

PhD thesis

Holmes-Darby, K. 1994. Women who gamble: challenging the odds. PhD thesis Middlesex University
TypePhD thesis
TitleWomen who gamble: challenging the odds
AuthorsHolmes-Darby, K.

The relationship of women to gambling is explored, placing it in its historical, legal and social context. An account of the gambler as a person is presented with reference to the various theories on why it is that people gamble at all and on occasions to their own destruction. An analysis of the existing sources of data draws attention to the invisibility of women when they move within a traditionally male domain and the prejudices they encounter when they try to join the male gambling group. Theories of gambling are then re-examined from a gender perspective, focusing on the way that women differ emotionally and economically from men and from each other. A series of assumptions is placed under scrutiny; i.e. that women take fewer risks in their lives and prefer harmony to competition; that women in general prefer less isolated experiences of gambling and shun the potential loss inevitable in this experience. The analysis embraces those women who gamble in supportive groups and those who become more isolated as their gambling develops a pathological tinge, together with women who manage to combine both forms of activity. Gambling activity is surveyed in the context of an established setting into which adult women must physically enter in order to play, that is; the dog or horse track; the casino; the bingo hall; the bookmakers. The high participation rate of women in bingo playing leads to a reassessment of women's propensity to gamble when social economic and psychological barriers are minimised. The thesis concludes with the view that it is the traditional “hidden from history" phenomena that operate to keep the participation of women in gambling activities a social secret and acknowledges the political and policy implications for women if attention is drawn to their involvement.

Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print20 Aug 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited20 Aug 2014
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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