Study to explore bookies' bid to capture female betting market

Media release
07 December 2017

A new Deakin study is hoping to uncover young women's changing attitudes to gambling and why more women are being drawn to sports betting.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Samantha Thomas, from Deakin's School of Health and Social Development, said research showed women traditionally preferred luck-based, rather than skill-based forms of gambling, but that seemed to be changing.

"We can see that women's participation in some forms of skill-based gambling, such as horse racing, is increasing," she said.

"Women are gambling on a more diverse range of gambling products, and we are also seeing that younger women have more positive views towards gambling. Our initial studies show they're more socially accepting of gambling and say it’s something they do as part of a night out with friends."

Associate Professor Thomas said gambling companies were increasingly targeting women with a range of tailored marketing strategies.

"These include what we recently saw with the alignment of fashion and glamour with the spring racing carnival," she said.

"But it also includes the promotion of entertainment options and women's groups from clubs and hotels, and a range of female-centred entertainment options from the casino.

"The manufacturers of poker machines are using branding that is much more friendly and appealing to younger women as well, including the development of Britney Spears, Ellen and Big Bang Theory themed machines."

Associate Professor Thomas said up until recently online bookmakers seemed to feature women in their advertising mostly in a decorative role, as a secondary character in a man’s betting experience, but now they were starting to feature women as the protagonist.

"The new Crownbet ad specifically features a woman - Australian actress and model Nicky Whelan - repeatedly using the tagline: 'If I were a betting man'. The ad portrays a sense of female empowerment and confidence through wagering.

"During the spring racing carnival we also saw female celebrities tag online bookmakers in their Instagram feeds, a signal bookies are using female-friendly 'influencers' to market their products.

"And bookmakers are even offering gambling markets on events that are popular with young women, such as The Bachelor."

Associate Professor Thomas said her study aimed to understand if it was this saturation of advertising that was making gambling more socially acceptable for young women, and why young women's attitudes towards some forms of gambling, such as sports betting, may be changing.

"While there has been a significant amount of research on young men and gambling, there is almost no research on the gambling behaviours of young women in Australia," she said.

"We want to properly understand this behaviour so we can develop strategies to help reduce and prevent gambling harm among young women.

"For this study we are looking to speak to young women aged 18-34 who have gambled in the last year on the pokies, horses, sports, or at the casino.

"They will participate in a 45 minute, confidential telephone interview with a female researcher, and will receive a $50 voucher for participation."

To find out more about the study, email the research team at gambling.research@deakin.edu.au.

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