Female online casino players have received the nickname of “glamblers,” do to these sites using feminine-friendly marketing schemes.
This site has published numerous articles over 2014 chronicling the rising popularity of gambling among women. While the trend cuts across games and platforms, female participation is largely concentrated in the online casino sector. There are several reasons for this, including the convenience of the online platform and the fact that land-based casinos are still largely male dominated. But the biggest reason, without a doubt, is that online casinos in Britain effectively market to female customers.
Sportsbooks and poker sites remain focused on male clientele, using a formula of black backgrounds, scantily-clad women and piles of cash. Most women don’t respond to these images, which is part of why sports betting and poker lag behind online casinos in the female market (although internet poker is on the rise as well). Which techniques do female-friendly online casinos employ?
The rise of glambling
• Women are gambling in unprecedented numbers, with online casino sites being the preferred platform
• Glambling refers to the use of online casino sites marketed exclusively toward women
• While most women gamble online as a harmless leisure activity, some develop serious problems, leading to fierce criticism of the industry
Online casino sites have found success by communicating with the softer side of the female psychology. Critics pejoratively refer to female-focused online casinos as “glambling” sites, referring to the use of bright colors, glitter, and in many cases cute, cuddly animals like kittens and chicks. The anti-gambling newspaper Daily Mail has made the online site Kitty Bingo the object of fierce criticism, arguing that its cocktail of adorable kittens, glitter and potentially high payouts is irresistible to many women. It even features a self-explanatory game called Glitter Kitty.
Perusing internet sites you can find numerous other examples of lady-friendly sites, including the Malta-based Vera&John, which features a fuzzy baby chick on the welcome page. Foxy Bingo, which (you guessed it) features a furry fox dressed in a leisure suit, caters almost exclusively to female clientele. It hosts a “mum of the year” competition, and runs interviews with popular UK celebrities.
In addition to the sites themselves, the 2006 UK gambling bill made it legal for internet gambling sites in Britain to advertise on television. This has fueled growth in the industry, including building interest among some women who didn’t even know that online casinos existed. Numerous TV ads employ female-friendly schemes heavy on bright colors and soft imagery. These ads feature attractive women, but they are more relatable than the casino vixens used to pique male interest.
Who are glamblers?
Like any consumer industry, there is a good and bad side to online gambling. There is nothing wrong with a woman (or man) playing casino games for a few minutes to relax after a busy day. For the majority of users, the activity is just that. But for some, once they start playing they don’t seem able to stop.
Thus the term “glambler” has both positive and negative connotations. Some women proudly call themselves glamblers, treating it as a fun free-time activity. For many it is a social community, as most online casinos host chat rooms and message boards. Some ladies log on to take a break from their hectic lives by communicating with others.
Sadly for others, “glambler” means female online gambling addict. UK gambling therapist Lindsey Karter argues that the convenience of online casinos makes the activity very addictive for some women:
Many of the women I speak to don’t gamble online for the thrill of winning; it’s about finding a way of escaping their problems for a few hours. While some people might turn to alcohol or drugs, these women have such busy lives that’s not possible. With gambling, you can escape your problems, but still get up to go to work in the morning or look after the baby.
Social stigma compounds problem gambling
Some women have gotten swept up and lost thousands of pounds punting online. British gambling laws ensure that a portion of tax revenue goes to programs combating problem gambling, but more needs to be done. And the problem is compounded by the fact that many women are afraid to admit to having a problem.
Because gambling is still seen as a masculine behavior, there is serious stigma attached to female problem punters. Men are almost expected to engage in self-destructive behavior at times, but society expects women to hold their families together, and thus tends to be unforgiving. Many women are unable to face the consequences of admitting to a gambling problem and do everything they can to conceal it. Playing online makes it easier to keep the secret. Some women have gambled away large sums of money without their spouses or children noticing.