Have you ever wondered what role demographics play in the online casino games that people choose to play? Does it even play a role? And why is it relevant?
These questions are valid and deserve a considered answer.
Succinctly stated, there are at least three valid answers to this question:
- Academic interest, as part of the understanding of the human psyche and its impact on demographics-based socio-economic conditions.
- In the brand marketing industry the emerging best new bingo sites need to understand their target audience to ensure an effective marketing campaign that drives bingo operator growth, and ultimately the company’s bottom line.
- Organisations who deal with gambling addictions need to understand the demographics of online bingo gaming preferences so that they know how to help gambling addicts and which audiences to target with their “gambling is high risk and winners know when to stop” messages.
By way of answering these questions, let’s consider the following points:
The proven effect demographics has on land-based casino games
While this article’s raison d’etre is to consider how demographics define online gaming preferences, there is principle in studying the impact of demographics on land-based, or brick-and-mortar, casino games.
Brick-and-mortar casino gambling was legalised in Las Vegas, USA in 1931. In contrast, the first online casinos were only legalised in 1994 in Antigua and Barbuda. Therefore, from a historical perspective, the length of time required to study the demographics of land-based casinos has been far longer than the time available to study the impact on demographics on online gambling.
The 2008 study titled “The Relationship of Demographics to Gaming Preferences and Behaviour,” by Michelle Millar and Seyhmus Baloglu notes the following details:
- Gender is not a strong predictor for gambling preference. However, men are more likely to gamble than women.
- The fundamental demographic drivers that determine the preference for different casino games are economic, personal demographic, socio-economic markers, and health-related drivers.
- Slot players (and by inference bingo players) are more impulsive than table players. Table games like poker require far greater analytical and deep concentration skills than games of chance like slots.
- People aged 36 – 50 and married are most attracted to slot machine games and were most likely to play online bingo. Juxtapositionally, people aged 21 – 35 and male were most likely to play blackjack.
- Women are most likely to play bingo, land-based, and online.
- And, young adults are far more likely to visit casinos than more mature adults. And, along a similar vein, there is a much greater chance that young adults will turn to online casino games than older adults.
- It is also interesting to note that players at table poker games do not show any demographic preference.
In summary, this study showed that visitors to casinos make gambling choices based on their personal demographics and socio-economic circumstances. The fact that women prefer playing bingo demonstrates that they generally do not like taking risks. As an aside, bingo, both online and land-based, has the reputation of being a game that does not carry many risks of losing large sums of money. On the other hand, because men prefer playing blackjack, it shows that they enjoy taking more risks than women.
The curved ball known as the “New Normal”
The website, prnewswire.com, noted in their report published on 18 September 2018, that the global gambling market is expected to reach revenues of over $525 billion (USD) by 2023 if it grows at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4% per annum from 2017. This number includes both land-based and online gambling.
Towards the end of 2019, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 was first seen in China. It has since swept rapidly across the globe, resulting in the almost instant shutdown of the global economy, changing the world’s economic outlook, and the primary business mechanisms for the foreseeable future, if not forever.
The global gambling industry has been hit rather badly with the closure of all land-based casinos and bingo halls around the world and all operators having to pivot their business models from a brick-and-mortar model to an online-based mode.
While many countries are tiptoeing out of their hard lockdowns in an attempt to reboot their economies, no one knows what the knock-on effect that the hard lockdown has had, and will have, on the casino industry. Additionally, no one understands how the current demographics and their influence on what casino games are played, as highlighted above, will change. Every industry across the world is having to work out how to successfully reposition themselves to start generating the types of profits they were before the lockdown, including the gambling industry.
The impact of rapidly declining socio-economic conditions on the gambling industry
Gambling is essentially a risk-based activity, and taking risks increases the endorphins in the human brain. Alice Park, in her article titled, “Why we take risks – It’s the Dopamine,” notes that “risk-taking, by definition, defies logic.” There is no rationale behind unpredictable behaviour. Therefore, the question that arises is why do people take risks?
A quick answer to this question is provided by a study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. It suggests that the reason why certain people take risks is when seeking to get that feel-good brain chemical, dopamine release. Park goes onto state that “dopamine is responsible for making us feel… happy when our favourite football team wins. It’s also responsible for the high we feel when we do something daring, like skiing down a double black diamond slope or skydiving out of a plane.”
The reason for this is that risk-takers seem to have higher dopamine levels which predisposes them to “keep taking risks and chasing the next high: driving too fast, drinking too much, overspending or even taking drugs.”
And, when this penchant for risk-taking to increase or maintain dopamine levels is combined with the mental distress caused by financial difficulties, it is easy to see why people of lower socio-economic groups tend to be attracted to gambling in an attempt to increase their endorphin levels and improve their financial circumstances by winning the next big jackpot.
And there have been hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people laid off or furloughed as a direct consequence of the global economic shutdown. Therefore, it stands to reason that these people will probably be attracted to games of chance like bingo and slots.