It is well known that the gap between male and female gamblers has been dwindling in recent times. While there have always been women found playing in casinos, the majority of a gaming establishments’ customer base has always been men.
Gender role theory suggests women are less attracted to gambling due to a perception of having a traditional nurturing role. They may therefore consider gambling to be a waste of family resources. However, the evidence generally no longer appears to support this theory as women appear to be gambling in similar proportions to men. Gone are the bygone days of a couple of rows in the smoky back section of the casino filled with chain-smoking grandmas, (even though they definitely are still there) and have been replaced by a younger female crowd. This is especially prevalent and visible in multiplayer table games, such as Texas Hold’em, where some of the top players worldwide are women.
Activity preference is proposed as the best possible explanation of gender differences in gambling, possibly arising from early gender roles, with several studies suggesting that men prefer skill based games such as blackjack, sports betting, horse racing; while women prefer non-skill based games like slot machines, video pokers and bingo.
It’s not just the element of luck that attracts women to slot machines; the low stakes involved attract females and slots can be tailored to the required clientele. Women find themselves drawn to slots such as this as it is something they know, relate to, and believe they will enjoy playing. Familiarity is a huge draw. While there is evidence that suggests male and female gamblers differ in terms of gambling preference, activities and style of play, it has been argued these differences are more complex and often relate to personal demographic, economic and health factors, so there is no definite way to really answer these questions, however there are some strong suggestions as to what each gender prefers.
Before the boom of online gaming, most poker was confined to land-based poker rooms and these types of places were hardly the most hospitable for women; those who did play were often the target of derogatory comments, if not straight up sexual harassment.
However, with online poker women are safe from nasty remarks or situations. Those who are abusive usually get kicked off by the moderator. And it’s this shattering of the gender division that is causing more women to move to online poker. No longer does it feel like a men’s-only game. It is now a game for both sexes, free from abuse, as well as another place to socialize. Female online poker players’ statistics vary between 30% and 60%.
There has also been a steep rise in the number of women who gamble due to the rise of the internet. While men are more outgoing in general and have no problem walking into a casino, some women may feel self-conscious by entering such an unattractive establishment, and as such have found an escape in the world of online casinos. With online gaming, women are no longer held back by their own pre-conceptions, and are free to play whatever they want, whenever they want (provided they have a credit card and funds). Operators have also taken notice of the growing female market, and have made strides to design sites that cater to as wide an audience as possible, which strongly includes women.
At the moment, one of the most popular online games for women is bingo. There are several reasons for this. Firstly there are ladies casinos that are built around bingo in an attempt to attract female clientele, which it definitely does. But secondly, and maybe even of more importance, is the social element of online bingo. Unlike men, women usually do not gamble for the thrill; instead, they like to socialize and online bingo is without a doubt one of the most social forms of gambling online.
Online bingo focuses heavily on its chat feature, ensuring that clients can converse and play at the same time, easily. When you consider that, it is not that surprising that online bingo has exploded, it has always been a popular social excursion and now it has crossed over to the virtual world. Females have always had a love for bingo, mainly due to its simplicity and the aforementioned social element. Females gamble for entertainment, while interacting and connecting with people of a similar disposition, and this is why bingo has such an intense effect on them.
While it is not an exact science, women in general either want to socialize with other similar players, such as playing bingo and chatting with other players, online or offline, or in the slots as well, interacting with people close to the machine. Other women may prefer the feeling of “escape” that gambling offers to some, and these females may prefer to play online, where they will not be bothered by anything or anyone, and can simply play at their own pace and leisure. Either way, operators are strongly encouraged to make their business attractive or at least decent in the eyes of females, since this may represent a welcome change in their income.