Gambling in the UK had historically been dominated by males, but that changed with the arrival of online gambling. Online casinos took away the need to physically visit a casino or betting shop for gambling and the number of women who gamble from home has increased with each passing year.
Female gambling, however, is not an altogether new phenomenon. The presence of bingo halls and the use of bingo as a social gambling tool for fundraisers and charities in the 1950s was a contributor to the presence of women in the gambling community. Most of the women who formed part of the traditional bingo culture were elder women. The establishment of betting shops in the 1960s changed that trend as these were considered male bastions of society.
Women are now once again forming a very important part of online gambling demographics. Confirmation of this fact can be found in the figures seen in the reports released by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) each year.
Female Gambling: Trends in the UK
The gross gambling yield (GGY) in Great Britain for the time period between October 2015 and September 2016, according to a report published by the UKGC, is £13.8 billion. The remote gaming sector's contribution to that number is a massive £4.5 billion, with the remote betting, bingo and casino sector accounting for a 32% market share.
A look at the numbers for the online casino industry are quite interesting in themselves, and cover the participation of men and women overall:
- Gambling from home: 97%
- Gambling on a laptop: 55%
- Gambling on a mobile device: 43%
- In-play betting: 26%
The statistics take on added significance when you take a look at the numbers relating to women gambling and pit that against the numbers for men, and the overall number. The number of women gamblers stood at 44%, compared to 53% for men. The overall percentile of people who gambled was listed at 48%.
An earlier report in The Independent in March 2015 had some interesting figures related to women and gambling. The report said that women under 35 are more likely to gamble than older women. It was based on a study conducted by Heather Wardle, who was previously the head of gambling research at NatCen, a social research institute. The report also indicated that women under 35 were more likely to gamble compared to women of the same age from an earlier time period.
Female Gambling Trends between 2012 and 2015
The numbers have been consistent over the years. The first ever annual Health Survey for England (HES) to include queries on gambling, conducted in 2012, showed that the overall percentile of men and women who participated in some form of gambling activity over the past 12 months was 68% and 61% respectively. If you took out the number of people who took part in the National Lottery, that number dropped to 46% and 40% respectively for the men and women.
The following are the numbers about women and gambling in the HES survey:
- 49% played the National Lottery.
- 20% played scratch cards.
- 14% played the other lotteries available.
- 8% were involved in betting at the horse races.
- 5% were involved with playing the slots.
- 3% were involved in private betting.
- 1% participated in betting on sports events.
- 2% participated in online sports betting with bookmakers.
Female Gambling Trends in 2016-2017
Recent studies conducted about the involvement of women in gambling, especially online gambling, also show some interesting results. One of the biggest online and mobile casino operators in the UK, BGO casino, conducted its own research on women and gambling.
The study also showed that women between the ages of 25-34 were most active in all spheres of gambling, followed by women in the age group of 16-24 years. The following are some key take-away points from their research into players at their casino:
- Increasingly more female players are signing up for the first time with online casinos.
- Though 40% of women gamble at online and mobile casinos in the UK, only 2% end up playing live dealer casino games.
- Women play mostly games of chance unlike men who mostly play skill-based games or games that seemingly give them a degree of control.
- The most popular casino games among women players in the UK are the bingo games, followed by slots.
- The number of bets by male players overshadow the number of bets placed by women, with men contributing to 55% of all bingo bets compared to the 45% contributed by women.
- The most popular online slot among women players in the UK at BGO casino is Starburst from NetEnt. Other popular games in the order from 2 down to 5 include:
- Rainbow Riches Pick n Mix
- Fluffy Favourites
- Da Vinci Diamonds
Another interesting statistic showcased by Titanbet Casino on its website tells you about the proficiency levels of women gamblers in the UK: while 75% of men gamble at online casinos compared to 71% of women, the women win as much as 5% more per bet compared to men for similar bet amounts.
There are other interesting statistics based on data from 2016 when it comes to women and gambling in the UK:
- 19% of UK's women gamblers indulge in social gaming, only marginal lower than the 23% of men.
- The difference is even smaller for scratch cards, 23% women compared to 25% men, according to data from March 2016.
- Women play for longer time periods with smaller wagers with the basic need being entertainment. This statistic is unlike that for men, who play more often.
Top Reasons for the Rise of Women Gamblers in the UK
The number of women gamblers in the UK has been steadily on the rise. Here are three main reasons for this development.
- The online casino arrives: The arrival of the online casino was the first big catalyst for this change; it brought gambling right into your home; you did not have to go looking for it. As a result, any woman with access to a computer and Internet at home could gamble.
- The mobile revolution: While the arrival of the online casino could be identified as the initial trigger for the rise in the number of women gamblers in the UK, the mobile revolution changed things completely. It allowed women to gamble on the go, and it is something almost every woman working professional or homemaker has. As a result, there has been a drastic increase in the number of younger women gambling at online and mobile casinos.
- The arrival of social media: Social media has taken things to the next level. Social gaming is a phenomenon that is now picking up. The numbers listed above tell the tale: women are not too far behind men in this aspect. The most popular social media channel for these games for women is Facebook, and the most popular games are slots.
Women and Gambling in the UK: The Dark Side
It is true that more and more women are discovering the entertainment and excitement that online and mobile casinos have to offer. There are loads of games to be played and tonnes of money to be won. A woman earlier this year won two progressive jackpots in the space of two weeks at BGO casino to take home a cool £1.7 million in all:
- £1.1 million on the Mega Jackpots slot Star Lanterns on Good Friday (April 14, 2017).
- £627,000 two weeks later, also on the same slot, Star Lanterns.
She beat some monstrous odds - 625 million to 1 - to achieve this feat. These are all the feel-good aspects to women playing at online and mobile casinos in the UK. However, there is a darker side as well, in the form of the possibility of a rise in problem gambling among women.
The reports from the UKGC for 2015-2016 sheds light on this:
- The risk of problem gambling is double among players in the 16-24 years age group. For women, the potential number is 2% compared to 7% for men.
- 0.5% of people above 16 years in England have been identified as problem gamblers, as per data from 2012.
- 0.7% of people above 16 years in Scotland have been identified as problem gamblers as per data from 2015.
- 1.1% of the people above 16 years in Wales have been identified as problem gamblers as per data from 2015.
- The actual incidence of problem gambling among women in the UK is at 0.1% while in men it is 1.2%.
To conclude, there has been a steady rise in women gamblers in the UK. A direct result of this has been the thriving online and mobile bingo business in the UK. Some of the big online bingo operators here, like Cassava Enterprises and Cozygames Management, among others, have launched bingo sites numbering in the thousands, most of them catering to women.
Online and mobile bingo are, however, not the sole attractions for women; they are equally attracted to luck-based games like slots and scratch cards.