Bingo! How Women have Changed Online Gambling

While the facility to bet through Gambling4Mobiles on a host of television reality and talent shows enjoyed mainly by women is indicative of the modern, mobile internet oriented feminisation of online gambling, the significant change in how gender plays a role in the industry – and, as a consequence, how internet gambling operators now decide on their various offerings – is due in no small part to online bingo.

A few things are noticeable about bingo today. First, out in the high streets of typical UK towns (mainly in the north), the number of bricks & mortar bingo halls has halved to around 400 since the game’s heyday, when Britain’s (mainly working class) women would get together for a night of socially-driven ‘gambling’ with the promise for the fortunate of ending the night with a financial windfall. That isn’t to say this format of bingo no longer enjoys a healthy level of popularity – turnover might have dropped by 3% in the year to March 2012 but it’s still over £1.22 billion!

But the biggest change – which highlights how we’re living our lives in an increasingly virtual age – can be seen in the proliferation of bingo websites. Less than a decade ago, in 2004, there were fewer than 20 in the UK, yet a reasonable estimate today puts the total at around 350!

As we all know, chatrooms provide a socially desirable – and safe – online environment for women who, thanks to mobile technology, are able to communicate on the go. Online bingo’s ability to allow people to enjoy such a facility while simultaneously playing games for as little as a penny has, understandably, created a brand new form of incredibly cheap (many play games where a card costs about 10p) ‘hobby’ gambling, known as ‘soft’ gambling. Remember that in ‘real’ traditional bingo, in contrast, players aren’t supposed to talk during the game itself.

Finally, in case we’re wondering to what extent bingo is a woman’s domain, a 2010 Gambling Commission survey suggests that twice as many women (around 12%) play than men...

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