For many years, gambling has been considered to be a male habit. Much like sports, action movies and DIY, it was thought of as a purely male pursuit, and women who indulged in the hobby were seen as oddities. But as Bob Dylan sang, the times they are a’changin.

A lot of progress has happened in the past twenty years. Female sports have never been so celebrated as they are now, achieving equality with men in more and more places. Women aren’t just watching action movies, they’re starring in them. One only has to see the success of Wonder Woman to understand that. There are many men sat at home watching on as their female partners attend to tasks around the home that their own mothers would have left for their husbands to carry out. And, in increasing numbers, women are taking up online gambling.

Perhaps it was the atmosphere of physical bookmakers shops and casinos that have put them off in the past. The historical view of them as been dark, dingy, smoky affairs full of noisy alpha males and sweaty, desperate gambling addicts with too much drink inside them. The world of online casinos provides a safe space where players of any gender can enjoy the thrill of gambling without having to contend with the unwanted social elements. In fact, the ranks of female online gamblers are swelling so rapidly that they’ve become a cause for scientific study and tabloid newspaper concern.

What Women Want From Gambling

Casino firms have taken note, and altered their formats to better serve their new customers. wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t an audience for it, but it’s out there and thriving. So how do female customers engage with the online gambling world? Do they have different aims and habits than men?

They’re certainly not playing ‘live dealer’ games, and seem to stay away from card games in general. One of the UK’s largest online casino operators recently confirmed that only 2% of all bets placed on games of this kind are made by women, even though as many as 40% of gamers online with them at any one time are female.

Bingo – perhaps because online bingo games have been marketed directly to women by TV commercials a lot in the past few years – is a much more popular choice. Betting on bingo games online has almost reached gender parity, with 45% of all such gambles made by women. This percentage is likely to shift further in the coming years, as all indications suggest that the number of female gamblers is rising rapidly.

Moving On From Bingo

Of course, online casinos are intelligent and innovative companies. As much as they appreciate the improved level of custom they’re seeing on their bingo offerings, they’d like players to move around their websites and try their hand at other sites, too. That’s where online slot machines have come in. Websites will typically entice female players with a bonus bet or a free spin on one of their slot machines and see if they can entice them to try their hand. Specially tailored online slot games, with titles and aesthetics aimed directly at female customers, have helped the flow of traffic begin to grow.

The UK Gambling commission keeps a close eye on such statistics, and the old gender divide when it comes to gambling is very close to being a thing of the past. In a survey, 53% of men admitted to the body that they’ve gambled in the past twelve months, as opposed to 44% of women – a difference of less than ten percent. Of the women who admitted to gambling, 30% said they’d done so in the last month. We suspect that figure would have been higher had the National Lottery been included in the results, but people tend not to consider playing the Lottery to be gambling – even though it is.

Did Technology Make The Difference?

As the internet has grown over the course of the past twenty years, it’s changed the face of many industries forever. Most people could have predicted that gambling would have been popular online. Not quite so many would have immediately believed or understood that as it did so, it would attract more and more women into its ranks.

Part of this is by virtue of targeted marketing, as we’ve already said. Early attempts to recruit women were crude and unsophisticated, whether it was those television adverts aimed specifically at female bingo players, or garish pink themed websites aimed at old gender stereotypes. As time has passed, though, operators have refined their approach and been rewarded by steady growth. Although lifestyles are changing, there are still a significant number of women who are at home during the day – either because they work from home or because they’re raising children – and by pitching the idea of breaking up the day with a little gambling, the advertisers made a connection.

Going back to the figures, it’s clear to see where that kind of advertising has been most effective. It’s social media. Twelve years ago, there was no such thing as Facebook. Today, it’s hard to remember what the world looked like before it. 23% of men admit to having indulged in ‘social gaming’ – online casino and slot games either advertised or playable on Facebook and sites like it. Asked the same question, 19% of women identified themselves as players – a gap of just 4%. It may not be specifically technology that’s driven the change – just the technology that created social media.

Differences In Betting Habits

So now that women are a major part of the online gambling world, how do their habits compare to men’s? A recent study carried out in Sweden highlighted some striking differences. Men, in accordance with their stereotype, heavily lean towards sports betting, poker and other games where they feel – rightly or wrongly – that they have some influence over the game’s outcome. Women are more likely to be found playing online slots, lotteries and bingo. In short, women prefer games of chance and luck, whereas men prefer games that at least outwardly rely on strategy.

The study drew some interesting conclusions to this, and provided figures to back it up. Because they believe the games they play rely on skill, men are more likely to back their own talent and bet large amounts of money. Women, more likely to accept the outcome is down to nothing beyond pure luck, generally only bet as much as they’re willing to lose. That may explain why despite the march towards between equality in terms of how many men and women gamble, only around 5% of all members of Gamblers Anonymous are female. They who bet little also lose little. Women are statistically less likely to develop a gambling problem.

While men still lead the way when it comes to gambling, the gap is narrowing. With a younger, internet-savvy generation of female gamblers emerging, and the stigma associated with gambling long gone, the number of women who wager is set to grow.

Whether this trend continues into the future is unknown – as the lines between traditional gender roles blur and thin, gambling habits may change, and those numbers may balance out. One thing is for certain though – women are at the table when it comes to gambling, and they’re there to stay.