Levelling the Playing Field: Female Demographics in iGaming
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, what better time to explore the sometimes vexed and complicated issue of equity within iGaming, focussing on the core of our industry – the players, punters and gamblers who form the life-blood of our business.
Traditionally, iGaming has been seen to have a very male-dominated player base. But, led and influenced by a new generation of top female leaders and developers in the gambling industry, big changes are afoot.
Bingo apart, many providers are now broadening the appeal of their games to embrace female players. While games and verticals may not be specifically curated for women iGamers, the female audience, nevertheless, increasingly holds centre stage with their male counterparts.
After all, women, it’s fair to say, make up fifty percent of the target market.
Guided by a quartet of leading female C-level changemakers, we analyse this quiet revolution in iGaming:
Nicola Buckingham, Commercial Account Executive, Gaming Realms (NB)
Jaana Repo, Senior Account Manager, Realistic Games (JR)
Chu Yook Liew, Team Leader Design Production at Greentube (CYL)
Jo Purvis, Director of Key Accounts and Marketing UK , Blueprint Gaming (JP)
What percentage of your player base is female, and how have you seen this change in recent years?
NB: Our portfolio of Slingo games actually boasts a player base that is 60 percent female, bucking the trend of most slot suppliers which mainly have a male following. Slingo is a variant of bingo, which has always been traditionally popular with women. This concept is often combined with features and mechanics more commonly found in slot titles providing a product that attracts a wide demographic. Because of this our content has held both audiences well. But female users have definitely edged out their male counterparts over the last few years.
JR: We have a varied and diverse audience, which is in part thanks to our equally diverse portfolio of titles that we have been developing for over a decade. Realistic previously made many slots that aligned with mechanics and aesthetics more commonly attributed to classic UK-style AWPs. As we have focused our efforts on making more contemporary releases with a more universal appeal and an emphasis on presentational quality, we have seen a shift in our demographics with more women than ever before engaging with the unique charm and engaging experiences offered by our titles.
JP: It’s a difficult question to answer as we don’t have direct access to operators’ stats, but generally we would estimate that around 30 percent of our players in slots are women. For us, we don’t think there has been a particularly noticeable shift toward more females engaging with gambling generally.
Maybe the fact that gambling is traditionally male-dominated–with the classic exception of bingo– has a lot to do with the traditional land-based social aspects of it. In the UK, for example, the classic image of a smoky bookmakers shop filled with men having a flutter is not enticing to women; whereas a day at the races most certainly is. Of course, that’s changing now with online being accessible for everyone, and I’d imagine the numbers eventually will slowly move more towards parity.
CYL: While the dominant group is still male, in markets such as the UK and Switzerland, where we are active with our B2C brands Admiral Casino and StarVegas, the split is almost 50/50. Our big campaigns aim for inclusivity and appeal to as wide a demographic as possible. Some regions have also seen recent domestic and international success for women’s sports. In the UK, the UEFA Women’s EURO final in 2022 had a TV audience of 17.4 million, with a further 5.9 million streams. This shows the increased interest in women’s sports. And, I believe, this large TV audience will influence future trends and grow the female player base.
Do you develop content specifically for women and, if so, what steps have you taken to ensure its relevance?
NB: Our content is never created exclusively for women. But we definitely lean into more ‘female friendly’ designs and themes at times. This is because we want to ensure our games appeal to a broad spectrum of players. So, while it may be a goal to attract a female audience, there are plenty of males who play these titles as well. As a provider of gaming content, we want to make sure we maximise the popularity of different genres and attract as many demographics as possible by ensuring our portfolio is diverse and versatile.
JR: Whilst we don’t make content specifically for a female audience, we do make content with a focus on entertainment, and this is adored by all demographics. Appealing to our varied audience has seen us add diverse elements to both the gameplay and aesthetics in our titles and this can be seen in the exciting releases we have upcoming on our roadmap. Shinobi Moon, releasing later in the year, will feature a female ninja as the main protagonist of the game with themes built around soft, calming colours. This has traditionally been associated with appealing to women. However, the mechanics of the title provide a dynamic atmosphere which balances with the softness offered in the graphics, creating a wholesome ensemble that will appeal to a wide player base.
JP: We have never set out to attract a specific gender demographic with any of our games. I think that finding enjoyment in slot games is something that is relatively gender-neutral. Many of our branded titles hold as much allure for women as they do for men, such as The Goonies™ and ted™. Of course, there are certain themes that are naturally more favoured by men, but games like Fishin’ Frenzy and Genie Jackpots tend to do well across the board.
CYL: We don’t have a sole focus on introducing titles that are just for women. We aim to create a good mix of content that not only has broad appeal across male/female demographics but also across age demographics. We have seen particular mechanics and game features that appeal more to female players. Furthermore, in recent years, the improved focus on safer gambling tools has allowed more women to trust our casinos, ensuring they can very easily set limits and manage their budgets which has encouraged engagement with more women.
What products/features would you say appeal more to women? Are there any general trends? Or does Bingo still reign supreme for female players?
NB: Part of our success is definitely driven by our Slingo format offering a variation of bingo which is a much-loved vertical by the female demographic. We are constantly trying to evolve this space further to provide innovative and relevant products for our target audiences. From the research and data we have collected from working with our operator partners, we see classic gaming brands have a large appeal for female players. In addition, gameshow and entertainment brands are also extremely popular with women, with the mass market reach increasing the interest. Slingo Deal or No Deal is one such great example from our portfolio with the title still popular today four-years after its release, as it’s a fun, engaging game that entertains our players over a long period of time.
JR: Games such as bingo, lottery and keno have traditionally attracted a lot of female players. Although Realistic’s content is predominantly slots, our next game release Keno Deluxe will be a variant and reimaging of Keno. This genre of game will of course appeal to female players and equally entertain male players as well. There is a definite shift in the trends of female players as a whole as they become more accustomed to the gambling industry, which was previously, and still is to a degree, a largely male-dominated space.
JP: Bingo is the classic game that has always attracted more women than men–perhaps this is down to the social aspect of the traditional bingo halls–but we find that most of our successful games are popular across all locations and websites with the odd, regional disparity. Slots are all about the entertainment that can be found in the overall gameplay and the win potential, so anything that ticks that box for one is likely to do so for most.
CYL: Bingo is still the main vertical in this space and remains hugely popular. Within our slots content, I see there’s a range of games that suit any audience and what seems to be the priority is engaging with current trends. While it’s assumed that games like Star Candy may appeal more to the female audience, we see that males enjoy playing it just as much. Our recent game series Diamond Tales offers fairy tales themes, but this content also appeals to a wider group. For our B2C brands, we have other types of quick-fire games to engage and attract customers that want an additional layer of interaction with our slots as well as seasonal promotions to increase the appeal.
Is the industry slightly disregarding the female player group by introducing content that is arguably more targeted to males?
NB: This has definitely been a trend among a number of slot studios. However, over time, it’s evident that the industry has broadened its content base to widen its appeal. There are several reasons for this, with one being the natural evolution of studios wanting to diversify their content. The pandemic also pushed more females towards digital entertainment that would have traditionally attended bingo establishments. Ongoing regulatory change has also challenged everyone to think more expansively around potential audiences, helping ensure that content is targeted and hyper relevant.
Overall, there is more that could be done in educating this player group about RMG, as well as introducing content to better appeal to females by drawing inspiration from other sectors.
JR: Looking back, I think our industry may have disregarded women players. But with more female players continuously entering the world of gambling, the iGaming industry as a whole is quickly growing and adapting to become more female-friendly. Some studies suggest that women tend to bet less but that they spend more time in the gameplay vs male players. Currently, there are games that make that gameplay element more enjoyable in the form of different features, fun animations, and engaging graphics. This demonstrates that we are finally understanding that the female audience plays a significant role in this industry and there is more content being created that speaks to women.
JP: Certainly not at Blueprint. I think we’ve seen across wider society that gender norms have changed so much. The traditional ‘blue for boys, pink for girls’ pigeon-holing is largely a thing of the past. As such, more and more people are able to choose the things that make them happy across all facets of life and not worry about who society deems it is suitable for.
CYL: I think most of the new content is aimed at the industry trends in general, without taking gender into consideration. For example, Buy Bonus, Megaways and Drops and Wins versions of our games are created to suit various markets. There is so much new content, and most suppliers can’t afford to exclude 50 percent of the market. I am proud to be a part of a company with such a strong representation of female employees, ensuring that female views and influences are always a part of the Greentube DNA.