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Women and Gambling: History, Psychology & Statistics of Female Gambling

Andy Brown Published: Mar 5, 2021

Gambling has attracted people for centuries. Various games, the stylish atmosphere around this activity, which was formed by popular culture, played the role of additional bonuses. For decades, women have not had a place in this industry, except as beautiful objects, dressed in exquisite dresses with a glass of martinis near to her man inspiring him to win at the gaming table. The Internet and the invention of mobile games have dramatically changed this situation. Land-based gambling spots are still predominantly for men, but the players in online casinos are both men and women.

This is important to understand, because, unfortunately, all people regardless of their gender are under the threat of developing problem gambling behavior. Until society begins to realize that under the nickname of an online casino’s player is equally likely to be both a male and a female – women will be doomed to suffer from their illness, experiencing stigma without knowing where to go to get help. Also, the realization that a large part of the online casino clientele is women has already influenced the interface of sites.

We hope this article will be useful for people engaged in the gambling business, as well as for gambling women who will become aware that they can organize communities and share their experiences because thousands of women around the world do gamble. So, you will find information about women in the online casino world, recent statistics as well as see how businesses have already recognized the potential of female gambling.

Women and Gambling: Then and Now

The business noticed the presence of female players before it was done by sociologists or special organizations that aim to help people suffering from addiction. Sites whose graphics previously targeted entirely on male audiences have reduced the number of images or phrases that can be offensive to women. If you look at the sites of the best online casinos in the United States, you will notice that many of them appeal to some themes (life in a big city, exotic adventures, etc.), although, of course, some sexualized images of beautiful women can be found. Another good example of this process is the demand declared by some online glossy magazines about style and fashion to provide special bonuses and offers targeted to female players.

So, for example, bonus packages that online casinos offer their players can include free spins in honor of Mother’s Day or Women’s Day. Despite the long-term lack of attention to this topic, more and more specialized studies have been published on women’s gambling, statistics on women engaging in this activity have been presented, and even life stories of female players have been discussed recently. Scientific articles, statistics, and personal stories that were published in credible publications became the basis for writing this piece.

history of female gambling
Until the 20th century, women did not have many of the fundamental freedoms enjoyed by men. In different countries, women did not have their funds or the ability to use finances freely enough to spend large sums. However, this does not mean that women were completely deprived of the opportunity to play: often this was done among female friends, without stakes. Although even such a play was strongly condemned and ridiculed. Think of ‘Vanity Fair’ and how Thackeray produced heroines who played cards instead of sewing or reading. Another “gambling” activity available to women was to organize various charity lotteries and other forms of gambling to raise funds for public needs. Even now, organizing evenings of gambling is a popular way of fundraising.

For example, the organization ‘North Carolina Coalition against domestic violence‘ advised organizing charity gambling night as the first idea in their brochure for fundraising. If you like the idea of ​​such nights, you can find many pretty successful guides on how to organize it on the Internet. However, despite the absence of formal prohibitions on visiting gambling places in adulthood for females, there are no statistics that would indicate the number of women who regularly gamble before the invention of online casinos.

The end of the nineties of the previous century became revolutionary for the gambling market. The introduction of new technologies, which allowed the high-quality functioning of online casinos, changed the rules of the game. Now gambling from public practice, in which a person had to play and communicate with peers, has become a part of private life. For many women who have never visited gambling halls because they knew that they will feel like a stranger there, the opportunity to play at home has become the main impetus for registering at an online casino. Safety, familiarity with the rules, the opportunity to relax – attracted and continues to attract thousands of women around the world every day.

Do Men and Women Gamble Differently?

Although there is still little research showing a difference between male and female gambling patterns, it has been proven that males try gambling for the first time in their late teens, while women enter the world of gaming much more later. These are usually women over 40. Unfortunately, not all of them started playing just for fun. Studies show that it is typical for a woman to start wagering after a certain crisis in her life: divorce, dismissal, or retirement. For these women, gambling is a safe way to escape loneliness and problems. Some use gambling only as a therapy, while others become addicted.

Who Gamble More?

To reiterate, there is still very little academic research on women in the gambling world, but we can share the results of some of them. Let’s look at the results of a study made by Optimove. It is an international analytical company that processes different data for businesses and industries. They got a task to perform a big analysis for 11 leading European casinos located in Italy, Germany, Sweden, UK, and Spain. Some of the numbers in their analysis are predictable, while others are surprising.

So women are almost every fourth player registered on the site. More by countries: “Sweden boasts the highest percentage of female iGamers with 32% – a third of all participants – followed by the UK (30%), Italy (21%), Germany (20%) and Spain (18%)”. It was unexpected to find out who deposited more. Women spend less on bets, but they do them more often, which leads to: “women outplay men considerably with an annual deposit of €1,143, to men’s €940”.

Table 1

a table retrieved from https://www.optimove.com/blog/women-igaming-force-reckoned

As expected, women are more likely than men to gamble on mobile phones. Also, they are more loyal customers: “survival rate for the first four months following registration is 19% for women for month 2 (compared to 17% for men), 14% for month 3 (compared to 12% for men), and 11% for month 4 (compared to 9% for men)”.

Types of Gambling Popular Among Women

Analysts were able to find out which games women prefer. There is a bias that women prefer simple games of chance (like slots), while men prefer complex games of tactics and strategy (like blackjack or poker). Analysis of the data showed that this is not the case. Both men and women play both games of chance and more complex games in about the same way. (See a table below).

Table 2

a table retrieved from https://www.optimove.com/blog/women-igaming-force-reckoned

One of the most unexpected conclusions made by Optimove is: “Parsing the top 1% of depositors reveals that women make up more than a third of iGaming VIPs – 34% – a larger percentage than their distribution in the database, which is 28%. This means that women become VIPs more often than men do”. On the other hand, when you consider that women on average spend more money and stay longer on the same site, then this figure is not surprising

Some of the most active casino booming markets in Europe are casinos in Sweden and the UK. In 2019 according to UK statistics: “43% of adults that have gambled in the last 12 months are women”, whereas in Sweden women are actively playing in all types of gambling games: “the report shows that Swedes mainly gamble on horse racing and lotteries. And 25% of those who reported they had gambled on horse racing in the last year were women. Lottery games had an even higher score of 36 %, while casino and sports betting made up 4% and 5% respectively”. In general, the Swedes are very venturous: “60% of Swedes have gambled in the last year. A third of this group have gambled in the last week, and 61% of these players are women”.

Global Perspective

women in gambling

Unfortunately, there is no study yet that would analyze women’s gambling patterns globally, only those that analyze this phenomenon in selected countries or regions. The lack of relevant and truthful information not only makes it impossible for marketing specialists to continue to promote online casinos among women but also makes it difficult to find effective ways to treat cases of addiction. It is a mistake to think that female and male gamblers need to be treated similarly – there are biological and sociological differences that make us look for special methods of treatment. Additionally, female addiction is stigmatized, as we mentioned above: “Certain stigmas develop with addictions because of social norms – for example, online gaming disorder is associated with young men and so an older woman has to overcome the shame of this stigma, plus the shame anyway about their addiction, before being able to talk about what’s really going on.”

We shouldn’t forget that the world of online casinos is composed of several dimensions. One of them is gamblers, while the other is developers, designers, and other IT professionals that create this world. A study conducted in Malta, one of the most popular destinations for online casino development, shows that about 42% of workers in this industry are women. So, the online casino market is becoming more and more open to women, and the further development of technology and the unstable situation in the world will continue to attract women to entertain themselves with gambling in the safety of their own home.

Gender Gap in US Gambling World

America is a country of people eager to gamble. This is a cultural specificity of the US: “About 85% of the US population views gambling as an acceptable activity for themselves or others”. Even women tend to engage more in gambling because traditionally this activity includes lotteries, sports betting, etc. For example, the National Lottery still is one of the most beloved games to participate in.

Over the last three decades, the number of women involved in casino games has increased. A typical situation is an increase in the number of female audiences by a few percent per year. It is expected that this situation will continue. Unfortunately, there is no large study in America that shows the latest trends in gambling for the whole country. The last major survey was conducted in 2002. It showed that the vast majority of Americans prefer the lottery. Online casinos were then in the early stage of their development, so they played a small role in that investigation. Although the sociologists were to make a conclusion about gender differences in gambling: “Eighty-two percent (82%) of the sample engaged in at least one type of gambling in the past year. Men and women were about equally likely to have gambled in the past year, but men were much more likely to gamble weekly”.

Women and Gambling in New Jersey

Fortunately, there are statistics on the gambling habits of the people of New Jersey – the state that gambles the most. The state has a research institute that regularly analyzes the data of the online casino industry. The last time the results of the study were published in 2018. Statistics have shown that the average player is older than previously, and the number of women engaged in gambling has also increased. “70.7% of gamblers living in New Jersey in 2016 were men, a statistically significant decrease from 74.9% in 2015. In comparison, rates of online gaming among women living in New Jersey increased from 25.11% in 2015 to 29.3% in 2016. Between 2015 and 2016, there was also a decrease in the total number of male gamblers within and outside of New Jersey” – states the investigation.” Below you can see a table that shows the changes.

Table 3

So, comparing even such a small amount of statistics from around the world, we can conclude that women are actively present in the world of online casinos. Their number will continue to grow because technology allows us to play safely and privately. It is known that in Europe, women spend on average more than men on betting – it is a pity that we do not know whether this trend is relevant for the United States.

Wrapping Up

women playing casino games

In conclusion, the world of online casinos is not a market solely for men, because women play actively and willingly. Because of the bias that says that women are not generally interested in gambling, scientists have done an insufficient amount of research, which does not allow us to talk about the real number of women involved in the wagering. There is information from selected countries that indicate that women are playing, their number is increasing every year, but this information is not enough to draw broad conclusions. The worst situation for studying this issue is in America. Although figures on the profitability of gambling in general and online casinos, in particular, are published by different states and can be found on the Internet easily, finding up-to-date statistics on players and their habits has proved to be an extremely difficult task.

While we can say that women are more loyal to casinos, they have fallen out of favor, that they annually spend more money on bets than men do. Another big disadvantage of the lack of real truthful statistics is that it makes it difficult for doctors and healthcare specialists to develop effective programs to combat addiction. Fortunately, online business owners quickly realized that women can become their clients, so there are already changes in both the appearance of the sites and the availability of requests for bonuses timed to coincide with women’s holidays.

Further Discussion

Women are still tabula rasa to the world of online casinos, so the owners of these sites should partner with scientific institutions to increase the number of researches on female gambling. There are still many questions that need to be answered clearly. Are women using strategies for playing card games? Which ones? How long does an average female’s play session last? What kind of marketing techniques can attract a female audience to the new online casino? What should be done to force women to remain loyal to specific casinos for a long time? Answers to these questions will give an edge to gamers and business owners. The awareness that many women are gambling can provoke the formation of local and global women’s communities who will share their experiences and also find friends. An online casino has every chance of becoming a safe, inclusive place that unites all people, giving them fun and entertainment.

References

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Written by:

Jeannie Howell
Author, Contributor at Gamblerzz.com. Jeannie is one of our top writers and gambling experts. Jeannie is an active poker player, and she knows a lot about all kinds of gambling games and sports betting.
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