Gambling, like many leisure pursuits, was once incredibly gendered. This was down to the stereotyped and archaic view that the men should be huddled around a smokey poker table, whilst their wives prepared snacks in the kitchen. Thankfully, this era has passed and today female gambling is on the rise as women around the world get in on the action. A recent survey, by the Gambling Commission, revealed that female participation in online gambling has increased by 80 percent since 2004. Moreover, with online gambling and female liberation making equal strides across the globe, this figure is only going to continue to rise.
However, in this same report, it was revealed that some gender differences still remain. This is namely in the choice of casino game differing between the sexes. It appears that men prefer high-stake, big-risk pursuits like poker or blackjack, whilst women tend to select more leisurely and less intensive gambling experiences such as bingo and slot machines. The commission’s findings are supported by Sandy Chen, who published a report on gender gambling preferences in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management in 2013.
In this report, Chen revealed that the average slot machine user ‘was a female homeowner, between the ages of 55 and 60, with at least some college education and an annual household income of more than $55,000’. This trend is replicated in the online casino world with comparison websites, like casinosites.ie, revealing that gender does indeed influence which advertised casino game someone is drawn towards.
So why is it that slot machines, if they be physical or digital, prove to be the female’s casino game of choice?
One argument that has been made relates to the intrinsic differences between the sexes’ approach to friendships. Studies have proven that women prefer to stick together and be part of a united group. One that cooperates with rather than competes against each other. Men, on the other hand, enjoy competitive friendships, with emotional bonds being formed in this manner.
Therefore, in alignment with this theory, women prefer slot machines because they are competing against a machine rather than a person (and, just as an aside, it seems, when asked, that women prefer to play slots with bitcoins). Consequently, women can go gambling with their friends, and enjoy the shared social experience, without having to create friction within their friendship group. Men, on the other hand, desire a casino game which pits them against their friends rather than an automated opponent.
Another theory that has been put forward relates to the contrasting presence of reckless tendencies within the sexes. Men, at least theoretically, are as a result more prone to reckless behaviour and are naturally drawn to pastimes that allow them to indulge this. They want to be able to overcome huge risk, to gain glory and respect and, consequently, are less likely to consider the detrimental, potential outcomes. Women, contrastingly, don’t want to waste their money needlessly, so will happily play a casino game – such as slot machines – which allows them to play at a considered pace and without the threat of blowing all their money at once.
Of course, these theories are only speculative and their findings do not represent a universal rule of thumb. However, what they do suggest is that online gambling is becoming an increasingly gender-neutral pursuit, even with enough variances to keep the battle of the sexes debate alive.