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Janet Jones Brings Attention to Female Gambling Phenomenon

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The very public gambling scandal involving Janet Jones, wife of star hockey player Wayne Gretzky, has brought attention to the oft- ignored issue of the female gambler. Janet Jones is a multi- millionaire former Playboy model with five children who is accused of engaged in illegal high roller gambling, sometimes betting tens of thousands of dollars in one weekend. The ring was allegedly run by her celebrity husband’s long- time close personal friend, and current assistant coach, Rick Tocchet and a former New Jersey state trooper. Police detectives are also currently investigating the ring’s potential ties to the mob.

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Jones is accused of gambling using the ring, allegedly placing high – roller style bets on professional sports games. She has, however, denied that her husband, one of the most popular figures in sports today, had any knowledge of the extent of her gambling. Attorneys for Jones and for her husband have told the press that neither will be charged with criminal activity. Jones, however, will most likely have to testify about her husband’s close friend and other people who ran and organized the ring.

Gambling addiction treatment experts say that it is indeed possible that Gretzky did not realize the extent of his wife’s high- roller gambling. Unlike other potentially addictive activities, gambling does not leave physical signs; there are no smells or dilated pupils, for example, as there are in drug and alcohol abuse cases. However, gambling experts do note that there is something somewhat unusual about Jones’ story: Jones’ gambling patterns differ greatly from the majority of female gambling fans, both in scope and in subject.

Without a doubt, more women are gambling than ever before, both on the internet and in land casinos. "Gambling has become much more normative in our culture, in our society, and in the media," said Jim Whyt, executive director of the nonprofit National Council on Problem Gambling in Washington. "If there were taboos about women only playing bingo, they've been erased."

"The percentage of women who gamble has dramatically increased. Twenty years ago, it would have been 80 percent men, 20 percent women, and now it's 50-50," said Whyt. Women, however, do not usually gravitate toward sports gambling. Also, generally, women are not high- rolling gamblers; their gambling wagers tend to be more moderate than those of men, perhaps because of a lesser natural predisposition to risk- taking. Women tend to play the slots, video poker, bingo, the lottery, and other games that induce relaxation; female gambling fans are looking for an escape from the problems of daily life rather than for a thrill, per se. Men tend to bet on poker, craps, horse racing, or sports.

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