Since the turn of the 20th century, the defined gender roles of the past have become distinctly more blurred. Whilst, once upon a time, activities and hobbies were definitively separated into male and female pursuits, today, people are now able to explore their interests regardless of what gender they may be. This had led to many traditionally male-oriented pastimes seeing a surge of female participants in the 21st century. In some cases, female uptake is even outstripping its male equivalent.
A key example of this is in regards to gaming. Stereotypically seen as an activity favoured by young males, it was recently revealed that women now makeup a 52% majority of the gaming population. This sharp rise is particularly potent in the online gambling sector of gaming, with the female demographic increasing by 80% since 2004, compared to only 60% by the male demographic.
This surge of female users, and their emergence as a significant percentage of online casino users, has led to many studies dedicated to exploring how this new gambling demographic’s preferences compare to the older, more established, male user-base. The results have proven that whilst women are increasingly likely to gamble as much as men, and be equally successful at it, the casino games they chose to play and their approach to gambling in general remain very different compared to their male counterparts.
For example, men are more likely to play casino games that are not only higher-risk but that pit them against each-other directly. Women, on the other hand, tend to select gambling activities with limited risk, and lower potential losses that also place them against mechanical opponents rather than their friends or fellow patrons. Consequently, male gamblers enjoy casino games like poker or blackjack, whilst women prefer slot machines and roulette.
Another facet of this divide comes from what men and women want from a gambling or casino experience and how they access them. Men are statistically more likely to spend prolonged time at a casino, usually wanting it to be an experience that lasts for the duration of the evening. Women, on the other hand, generally frequent casinos for brief periods of time, usually as only one of many components of the evening.
Therefore, men enjoy the sociability and slow build-up offered by games such as poker, as it allows them not only to fuse social interaction with the gambling pursuit itself but also creates a more leisurely pace. Meanwhile, women enjoy the slot machines and roulette wheels because these are casino games they can easily dip in and out of. It doesn’t require prolonged commitment or focus.
This relates to men seeing gambling as the primary activity of a casino trip, and therefore devoting their concentration and energy solely to this. Unlike women who, seeing it as a more sociable and fleeting experience, like quick-fire casino games of luck as it allows them to continue focusing on the conversation and flow of their evening as whole. It is a complimentary rather than primary element of their plans.
Of course, as is the case with any discussion of gender, these findings are not iron-clad. Statistics may prove a supported consensus but not a concrete proclamation or excuse for generalisation. Moreover, with the rise of female poker players like Victoria Coren-Mitchell, it is likely that these gender divides will morph and change within the gambling industry, in the same way they have done in society as a whole, as women become more and more engrained and experienced with gambling culture.