Most online gamblers are women. Heterosexual women. Hint. Hint. Hint.


Dormant account
Dec 12, 2000
Women raise the stakes for online casinos

270m is staked by 'bored housewives' every year in cyberspace's burgeoning fun palaces

Jamie Doward, social affairs editor
Sunday June 13, 2004
The Observer

Open any men's magazine and you cannot miss the adverts for internet casinos. Many of the adverts feature scantily clad women and promise membership of an exclusive club offering instant gratification.
But the firms selling the glamorous James Bond lifestyle might now want to think about radically changing their advertising, as new research shows that more middle-aged women now engage in an online flutter than any other group.

Although men still represent a hardcore group who play regularly for big stakes, women now make up a vast chunk of what aficionados term 'casual' punters.

According to the media consultancy firm Screen Digest, 'bored housewives' have become hooked on online games and competitions which promise cash rewards and prizes, a burgeoning industry which is now worth more than 270m a year in Europe and north America alone.

The firm found that the typical net gambling addict is a married woman aged over 40, surfing the net when her husband is out of the house.

Gambling experts say new technology has transformed the demographics of punters. 'Women hate going into smoky betting shops - it's an intimidating environment. But a game of Texas Hold'Em in the comfort of their own bedroom is a lot more attractive,' said James Hipwell, editor of the gambling magazine Inside Edge.

Screen Digest quotes figures produced by internet tracking agency Nielsen, which found that 64 per cent of online punters are women and 60 per cent of them are married. Around half of those who participate online are aged between 35 and 54.

The report's author, Nick Gibson, said a rise in the number of people with internet access, coupled with an increasingly elderly population with time on its hands, had created a huge demand for online gaming.

'This demographic is not only avidly playing online games but, over the past 24 months in particular, also appears increasingly comfortable doing so for money,' said Gibson, author of Online Gaming Markets to 2007.

Unsurprisingly given the statistics, it is a woman who holds the UK record for an online payout. Michelle Black, 36, from Manchester, scooped two windfalls of 74,652 and 201,000 playing online fruit machines at

The dramatic demographic shift has been so acute that some sites are now reporting that 70 per cent of their players are female. They favour card games such as solitaire, which promise cash prizes for the best player. Also popular are bingo, pub quizzes and casino games, chiefly one-armed bandits, roulette and poker. 'Every casual online gaming sub-sector is now dominated by female gamers,' Gibson said.

Sites such as now feature a vast range of free games that offer players the chance to win virtual tokens which can be exchanged for cash or prizes. By doing so, sites such as avoid the stringent regulations applied to gambling sites.

'We see women as a fantastically important target. We're trying to make the games as much fun as possible, for instance by allowing people to play for a long time without losing any money,' said a spokesman for Virgin Games, which is due to launch its own gambling site.

The lure of increasingly big bucks is a response to cutthroat competition within the gaming industry which means sites need to find ways of attracting new customers. It is estimated that there are now 300 software developers who design gaming sites. A typical game will cost an operator anything up to 30,000, plus a share in future revenues.

Many sites offer casual punters the chance to play for free to help them understand the rules. 'The most popular gaming sites for women are the ones that are the easiest to get into,' Gibson said.

An increasing number of sites now link to hardcore gambling operations, and Gibson said he believed professional betting firms would soon target new female punters.

'It has the potential to provide an extremely lucrative extra revenue stream,' Gibson said. Online poker has become big business in recent years. There are now more than 140 online poker sites on which 40m is staked daily.

Ladbrokes says women are embracing online gambling at a phenomenal rate. About 16 per cent of women have tried poker in some form or other, although this is still only around a third of the percentage of men who have played.

'Women's poker is growing steadily. They are undoubtedly more successful and have some natural characteristics that help them,' said Albert Tapper of Ladbrokes.