It’s no secret that women are topping the charts when it comes to gambling in all of its forms and shapes. This sensational appetite immediately drew the authorities’ attention, and it generated all sorts of studies and polls to get a better understanding of the phenomenon. And since we’re talking about such a developed country, the results were thorough and enlightening. While demographics are part of the studies on gambling behaviour, there’s less focus on the young women group. This happens because gambling is still perceived as a male-dominated activity. That’s exactly the gap we’re aiming to fill with this article. And we’re inviting you to check out the data we gathered on young women’s gambling behaviour.
The Traditional Component
As stated before, gambling is seen as a predominantly male activity. However, the statistics paint a different picture. Actually, women account for 30.6% of the total gambling expenditure. Furthermore, the gambling participation figures are very similar between the two sex groups, as shown in the table below.
Now that we’ve established that women gamble similarly to men let’s focus on the 18-29 age group. You can clearly see that the percentage of regular gamblers in this sector is significantly reduced (only 11.9%) compared to 30-49 or 50-64. However, it still represents over 50% of adults.
Gambling is so natural that one respondent to a study said “It’s a tradition to go down to the pokies on your 18th birthday”. Even if this isn’t the case for all young women, gambling is certainly something they “learn” at home. In most cases, young female gamblers see this behaviour within the family. To perfectly describe this situation, here’s a quote from a 25-year-old woman talking about how she discovered gambling:
“Well, the pokies, I guess I’ve grown up with it. My parents frequently use them when we’re at the club. Or if we go out for dinner at the pub, they will use them. I guess I’ve always just done that. I just [gamble on pokies] from them, I guess.”
Preferred Gambling Activity
Now that we’ve seen the numbers about young women’s participation in overall gambling activities, it’s time to take a close look at what they gamble on, more exactly. It may come as a surprise for most of our readers, but pokies aren’t on top of the list. At least not when talking about offline gambling. It’s lotteries and instant lotteries, the so-called “scratchies” that score the highest (26.7% out of all female gamblers) when it comes to popular gambling forms among young women. Pokies come second with other forms of sports betting taking third place.
When switching to the online environment, pokies, or EGMs, take the lead. Around 48% of young women prefer online pokies to any other form of online gambling. Even with the constant struggle of ACMA to regulate the online gambling environment, there are still a lot of options to gamble on the internet.
Determinants of Gambling Behaviour Among Young Women
We’ve already seen how growing up in a family that gambles can have a strong influence on young women. This time around, we’re looking at some of the individual determinants of gambling behaviour.
To have fun and enjoy themselves - the biggest percentage of young women said that the main reason for gambling is having fun. This group sees gambling as harmless fun and considers it’s ok to potentially lose some money for the thrill and the experience.
To boost interest in an activity - we’re now referring to those women choosing horse or sports betting as their preferred gambling activity. They turn to gambling because it makes watching sports a lot more engaging and exciting.
Out of boredom - coming in at the third position, boredom is also a factor. Having nothing else to do, some young women turn to pokies or other forms of gambling as a way to pass the time.
To Win Money - of course, winning is also a reason to gamble. However, the percentage of gamblers who strictly do it for winning is lower than in the previously-mentioned categories.
Mitigate stressful issues - an even lower percentage of young women gamblers turn to pokies or betting to take a break from household responsibilities or simply escape from everyday life.
Finally, there are also influences from social networks that can heavily influence gambling behaviours. Besides family members, the so-called “peer pressure” alongside male partners plays an important role for young women that turn to gambling.
Peer influences - If they’re in a group where everyone enjoys pokies when going out, it’s a matter of time until they’ll also get into the activity. It can even go as far as seeing a trip to the horse track as a girl’s day out.
Male partners - young women’s gambling behaviour is significantly influenced by the attitudes of men in their life. The influence can start as advice on gambling, which bets to place, or even playing together as a couples’ activity.
Once more, there’s no better way to illustrate the two social network influences than with a quote from a 20-year-old gambler:
I think it’s also a bit of peer pressure like my boyfriend gets money out, and I feel like I should get money out as well. Yeah, it’s peer pressure.
After going through all the data presented above, we can conclude that adolescent Aussie women’s gambling behaviours are diverse and have multiple influences. However, it can be clearly said that most young women choose to gamble for fun, to relieve boredom, or add interest to watching sports. There are very few cases in which women gamble strictly to score big wins or escape the day-to-day routine.
Secondly, it is obvious that the socio-cultural environment plays a crucial role. Witnessing family members gamble while growing up, peer pressure from friends/partners, and the overall normalization and acceptance of gambling in the country. This trifecta of factors seems to be the one influencing young women the most.