Women's New - and Complicated - Relationship with Online Gambling in the UK

Elana K. - May 17, 2016

In the United Kingdom, gambling used to be solely a man’s activity. Today, however, that is all changing as online gaming companies have discovered that women are an ideal audience, and have great revenue-making potential.

In the United Kingdom, gambling used to be solely a man’s pastime. Both the ads and the games themselves were designed to cater to an exclusively male audience. Today, however, marketers in the gambling industry have realized that they have long-neglected an entire audience - an audience that has large revenue-generating potential.

That audience, is, of course, women, who today make up a sizable portion of young gamblers in the UK, according to the Gambling Commission.

Women’s sudden access to the world of gambling was made possible due to the creation and development of online gambling, whose ads are readily seen online, on television and on every other technological medium.

The Difference Between Men and Women’s Gambling

While women present a large - and lucrative - audience to online gambling, they are not marketed to the same way that men are. This is because, according to the Gambling Commission, men and women gamble for different reasons. Men enjoy the rush and thrill of winning fast cash; women see online gambling as an enjoyable, leisurely pastime, a way of unwinding after a hectic day.

Online gambling statistics reflect these facts: the average female online casino player will spend 21 months gambling in her lifetime, whereas the average male online casino player will spend 14 months gambling in his lifetime. Women spend more time at online casinos because they see it as a leisurely activity; men spend less time because they enjoy the rush that comes from fast-paced thrills.

Gambling Ads Targeting Men and Women

Online gaming companies recognize that men and women flock to online gambling for different reasons, and thus, their ads are different. UK ads targeting women tend to appear on television during the day, and focus on the social and glitzy aspects of gambling. The message is, “Gamble, unwind, and be fabulous.”

Ads that target men tend to appear on television later at night, and they portray the action-packed, fast-paced fun that can be had when men take a risk and dare to win big. The message is, “Gamble, win, and you will be a winner.”

Additionally, ads targeting women tend to focus on Bingo, whereas ads targeting men focus on games like blackjack and sports betting. The different games are a result of the different views men and women have on gambling. Women are less concerned with return to player stats; they are more interested in light-hearted, fun games. Men, on the other hand, prefer gambling activities that allow them to exercise some degree of “skill,” even though in reality the games are totally random. (These are, of course, generalizations, to which there are surely exceptions.)

Women and Problem Gambling

Women who are joining the ranks of online gamblers in the UK tend to be in their late 20s, a point at which they are more financially stable or starting families - the first of which provides them with funds to gamble with, and the second of which provides them with a desire to escape boredom or household chores.

The issue, however, is that with more and more women discovering the world of online gambling, more women are also discovering its addictive qualities. According to the Gambling Commission, women account for 25% of gambling addicts in the UK, and the number is probably higher when it comes to online gambling.

Some liken the online gambling adverts targeted at women to the cigarette adverts that targeted women in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, cigarette ads promoted a similar lifestyle that online gambling promotes today - glamour, independence, fun. Today, we know that cigarettes are harmful, and restrictions have been placed on tobacco companies from certain types of advertising. The harmful effects of addictive gambling, however, have not yet been recognized, and ad restrictions have not yet been placed.

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