Only the lonely: an analysis of women's experiences of poker machine gambling

Document Type


Publication details

Holdsworth, L, Nuske, E & Breen, H 2012, 'Only the lonely: an analysis of women's experiences of poker machine gambling', Gambling Research: Journal of the National Association for Gambling Studies (Australia), vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 17-38.

Peer Reviewed



Problem gambling is a social issue in Australia that increasingly involves women. In this paper we present the subjective experiences from interviews with 20 women poker machine players, 10 of whom self-identified as recreational gamblers and 10 who had sought and received help for their gambling. The women explain their gambling histories and their abilities to remain as recreational gamblers or their progression to problem gambling. For the group of gamblers who have received gambling help, their primary motivation to gamble was to fill some emptiness in their lives, whereas recreational gamblers principally gambled for enjoyment. A better understanding of women's gambling experiences, and the range of problems they encounter, will allow practical treatment strategies to be developed and implemented, as well as for women's needs to be accommodated more effectively by gambling policies.