Women in gambling
Gambling has been a part of human society for thousands of years. The games were mostly restricted to male participants, however. It wasn’t until relatively recently that women were allowed to legally partake in gambling activities as well.
The earliest connection that can be found between women and gambling dates back the ancient Roman Empire. Most Roman gods were directly lifted from their Greek counterparts and given a different name. There were exceptions to this rule, however. While the Greek god of gambling was Hermes, the Romans had Fortuna as their goddess of luck, prosperity, and gambling. Despite the patron goddess of gambling being female, women were only allowed to partake in gambling during certain festivities.
Gambling would remain prohibited in most countries around the world for many years. It was only in the 19th century when these rules started to fade away a little, specifically in the “New World” of the American Wild West.
The Californian gold rush in the mid-19th century led to many people settling on the American West Coast in search of their fortune. Entertainment was not easy to come by in such a new and desolate place, but games of chance were an easy pastime. The typical saloons in every small town provided ample opportunity for people to play their money away. It was not prohibited for women to play these games. The simplest reason for this was that life was hard in the Wild West and gender-segregation was not a concept that Americans of that time valued as highly as Europeans. Games like poker were especially popular in these places, with several women rising up to become famous and successful poker players.
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One of the most famous gamblers in the Wild West was Alice Ivers Tubbs, also known as “Poker Alice.” She made a name for herself by joining many high-stakes poker games all over the country, armed with a revolver in case she was accused of cheating. She opened her own saloon in 1910 and named it “Poker´s Palace”. She passed away in 1930, leaving her fearsome reputation and winnings behind.
Gambling and women in modern times
Gambling has become easier in modern times, for men as well as women. Women are no longer barred from gambling establishments, which has led to an observable rise in female players. The advent of online gambling assisted even further in this matter, as it was now not even necessary to leave the house in the first place. Some women might have been cautious of going to a land-based casino, as not all players who use the facilities are as moral and upstanding as should be expected. Online gambling has led to this fear becoming less of an obstacle.
Differences between men and women
Men are generally more prone to gambling addiction than women, due to multiple reasons. FHEHealth posits multiple reasons for this difference:
- Men are generally more interested in sports than women. This leads to a larger number of men participating in sportsbook betting. Advertisements advertising sportsbook betting are also frequently aired during the commercial breaks of competitive sports.
- Men are more likely to go to the casino as part of a social event. A group of male friends is more likely to have a night out at a casino than a group of female friends.
- Men often act more impulsively than women when faced with stressful situations. Numerous studies have shown these different reactions. These reactions can be changed through behavioral training, but the average man will react more impulsively in stressful times than the average woman.
Women tend to treat their gambling more casually than men as well. One study shows that the most common games played by women were lotteries and scratch games by far, with gambling machines as a distant third. Men participated in these activities as well, but also participated in betting activities on horse races and sports competitions.
Another thing that’s been observed by casinos as a general trend is that women are more likely to play games like online bingo, and slot machines. Poker and blackjack are less popular. This seems to indicate a preference for less strategic games. Research has suggested that these differences stem from a difference in motivation between men and women. Men played more because they wanted to make some money and win the games they were playing. Women played more because they thought of gambling games as a fun activity.
Differences between women of different ages
There were very clear, observable differences between women of different ages. A study from the University of Wollongong in Australia was set up to study what these differences were exactly.
The data was collected by the researchers between March and May of 2017 from a total of 2750 women living in New South Wales and Victoria. They decided to make women the sole focus of this study because of two reasons.
Firstly, studies between men and women may be important, but this may downplay the issues women experience with gambling in favor of focusing on men due to the larger number of men struggling with their gambling behavior.
Secondly, most previous studies have researched women as a single, homogenous group. This has led to differences between subgroups based on factors such as age and socio-economic background going unnoticed. The differences between women of different ages and their gambling preferences were chosen as the main subject of this study.
The study would be performed on data from women aged 16 years and over living in New South Wales and Victoria. Though gambling is not allowed below 18 years of age, 16- and 17-year-olds were included in the study as prior research had shown that some of the newer forms of gambling may be more attractive to younger women. Data was collected on numerous socio-demographic indicators as well. These were factors such as postal code, level of education, and status of employment. The samples of data would then be divided into three separate groups based on age. These were:
- Women aged up to 34
- Women aged 35-54
- Women aged 55 and over
The researchers originally meant for women under 18 to be their own category, but they did not receive sufficient samples to constitute this being categorized as a separate group.
The participants received a small questionnaire prior to the study to illustrate their gambling behavior. They would be asked to answer questions such as “When you think of the past 12 months, have you bet more than you could really afford to lose?” and “Have you felt guilty about the way you gamble or what happens when you gamble?” Participants then selected an answer from four options which were:
2. Most of the time;
3. All the time.
The women would then be given a corresponding score:
Participants who scored 0 and indicated that they had not used any gambling products in the past 12 months were further classified as non-gamblers.
The participants would also indicate the frequency at which they had participated in four types of harmful gambling activities in the past 12 months. This was again ranked, this time on the following scale:
1. Less than once a month;
2. 1 to 3 times per month;
4. More than weekly.
Participants would additionally be asked which types of gambling activities they preferred.
Results of the study
Women aged over 35 said that videoslots were the form of gambling that they enjoyed the most because they were “entertaining”, “enjoyable”, “exciting”, or “fun”. Some also commented that they preferred Videoslots because they were easily accessible, easy to gamble on, and “convenient.” However, a few women distanced themselves from Videoslots as a form of gambling, with one 65-year-old woman stating that she used Videoslots “more for fun than actually gambling”.
There were only a few women who chose gambling in casinos as their most preferred form of gambling, with most women who chose this under the age of 35. Women of a younger age described the broader entertainment associated with the casino, and casino gambling as part of a “night out” and something that was done “for fun.”
For those women who preferred sports betting, the predominant theme was associated with how easy it was to access sports betting products. Women who participated in sports betting weekly stated that they preferred it because they believed it was a way of gambling where they could win a large amount of money. Two women who were problem gamblers said that they preferred sports betting because it was “fun.” There were several different reasons for sports betting as a preferred product across the different ages. Women upwards of 55 thought of sports betting as “low cost”, while middle-aged women (aged 35–54) described sports betting as a low-risk form of gambling. Some of these women were also experiencing low-risk levels of gambling harm. For example, the following 37-year-old low-risk gambler stated that she preferred sports betting because “it is easy and the risk of losing money is low”. One 16-year-old who screened as a problem gambler stated that she preferred sports betting because of how easy it was to access.
A large segment in all age groups stated they also preferred bingo due to its simple nature and the fun of competing directly against other players.
The study seems to have confirmed the suspicions of casino-operators. Women do indeed mostly prefer slot games and bingo.