I was speaking to a colleague the other week on my lunch break. It was the sort of conversation that can best be described as ‘idle chit chat’ (or polite pleasantries). He’s not someone I work closely with, nor do we speak regularly. But we ended up in the kitchen at the same time and the rules of social politeness overcame us. We’d have to speak to one another.
A quick exchange regarding our respective lunches started the conversation and we managed a quick joke at the expense of the distinctly bottom of the range microwave. But then the conversation turned to what we’d been doing over the weekend. He told me he’d been to the football with his kids. I told him I’d spent most of my Saturday night gambling. ‘Ah, you play bingo do you?’ came the response. And there it was. An all too familiar response.
We’ve Been Bingoing Mad
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to hang this colleague for his assumption. He seems a perfectly nice chap and he readily admitted he doesn’t gamble himself. But his snap judgement would be echoed by plenty of people – both men and women – in response to the same question. It’s a stereotype that just refuses to evaporate.
Bingo was always the acceptable face of gambling for women, the one they are more likely to play than men. Of course, lots of women still love a game of bingo too, be it in-person or online. It’s certainly not my cup of tea though, I find it distinctly boring and although I know all forms of gambling involve a fair amount of luck, bingo is entirely without skill to my mind. That’s not the case so well.
Most people would identify poker as the casino game that involves the most skill and judgement on behalf of the player. It’s also transcended traditional gambling in many ways, to the point where big events are now televised.
Shock, horror too! These live events often feature women doing rather well for themselves. Victoria Coren is not only a successful broadcaster with a pretty face, but she’s also one of the most successful poker players in the world. The gap has closed but perceptions remain.
Ask someone to draw a poker player and the chances are they’ll sketch a bloke in dark glasses. Ask someone to describe a typical bingo player on the other hand and you can bet your bottom dollar that the response will feature a female.
Slotting Into Place
Again, you can’t necessarily those people for reinforcing traditional stereotypes. By their very nature, stereotypes are everywhere. For a bystander who has little to do with gambling, you can understand why they would repeat the narrative.
However, all the evidence suggests that times are changing. Poker probably IS still played by a male majority even if the gap is closing, but slots are increasingly popular among women. Indeed, research now suggest that women are closing the gap on their male counterparts significantly in terms of hours spent playing slots.
A Diminishing Gap
It makes perfect sense that this gap should shrink too. Casino games are so clearly appealing to both sexes. There’s no reason to believe that a male perception of an online slot should different from a woman’s. They’re readily accessible to beginners and engaging enough to encourage regulars to play extensively.
If the trend continues, then online casinos will remain the catalyst for the dissolution of the traditional ‘women play bingo, men play everything else’ perception. 50% of internet gamblers will soon be women and it’s slots, poker and other table games that are gaining the most momentum among female players, not bingo. Those who love their bingo, keep playing. But there’s a lot more to online gambling for women than that.