Know your target audience: a portrait of online casino players in 2021
How old is the average online gambler? Where in the world is online gambling participation highest? How many online gamblers are female? The harder a question is to answer, the more important it may be for painting a portrait of your target audience. Get to know your players better with our look at the target audience for the iGaming industry of 2021.
Online casino gaming and sports betting is a fast-paced, dynamic, and — above all — profitable industry. The constant technological innovations and changing regulations around the globe make it one of the most exciting businesses to be in, with every day bringing a new challenge or opportunity. Perhaps most importantly, the current global iGaming boom shows no sign of stopping — recent estimates see global revenues topping $100 billion within the next five years.
After the events of 2020, when iGaming was less affected than many other industries — and even picked up some of the slack left by the closure of land-based casinos — now is looking like a better time than ever to start an online casino. But while online gambling is a unique industry, one basic business principle holds as true for online casinos and sportsbooks as it does for retail, fashion, music, and other businesses: the key to success is to know your customer.
How old is your average online gambler in the UK? How about Kenya? Australia? Does the market skew male or female? What about education and income levels? Where in the world is gambling participation highest?
Getting a clear picture of your target audience is especially important for new operators who are just starting their online casino platform and integrating gambling and sports betting software. Keep reading to learn more about the online casino target audience in 2021.
Young and male — are the stereotypes true?
There is no single portrait of the average online gambler. However, while the details will vary from country to country, overall two things tend to be true about online casino players and sports bettors: they tend to be on the younger side (18-35) and they tend to be male (but the gap in the male/female ratio can be as small as a single percentage point).
These are the same tendencies you’d expect from land-based gamblers, but exaggerated in the online space; one in-depth study of Canadian players found that while 58% of land-based casino players were male, the percentage rose sharply — to 78% — when it came to online participation. A 2017 Geopoll study found that 69% of males and 44% of females in Kenya had bet on sports. The rate of gambling participation rises dramatically when it comes to young males; 77% of males aged 25-34 had gambled in the past, with nearly 60% of them gambling once a week.
As for age, in many markets, older gamblers — especially those aged 60 and up — are more likely to favor land-based establishments. However, that could change, as in the future the older demographics will likely be more at home with technology than they are now.
A 2019 UKGC survey found that online gambling engagement is rising among both females and males; 25% of males and 17% of females surveyed had gambled online in the past four weeks, both numbers a 2% increase on the previous year.
According to the Journal of Industrial and Intelligent Information, Chinese gamblers are more likely to be male than female. Additionally, just over 50% of Chinese players are 35 or younger, 37% between the ages of 36 and 50, and 9% aged 51-65. They also tend to have lower education levels.
Gambling is widespread in Canada, where six in ten citizens participate in some kind of gambling activity. According to a study by the University of Lethbridge, 70% of online gamblers are between the ages of 18 and 39, with 47% of them aged 20-29. Males are highly over-represented in online gambling; whereas 17.6% of online gamblers are female, 82.4% are male.
In Australia, too, a higher percentage of gamblers are male than the population at large. According to a 2017 study, while only 49% of the country’s population is male, men account for 54% of the country’s gamblers, and 45.8% of Australian players are women, whereas 51% of the country is female.
But while online gamblers do tend to be young and male, there are still a substantial number of players in other age brackets, right up through the over-60’s — and in many countries, the number of female players is steadily increasing. The iGaming audience is big enough that the smaller demographics are still substantial.
Education and income
Education and income levels of online gamblers vary. In African countries such as Kenya, gambling participation rates are higher among the lower-income segments of the population, and highest among the unemployed. In contrast, Canadian online gamblers have an average annual income of nearly $75,000, and tend to have at least some university education. In Australia, lower-income gamblers spend a higher percentage of their income on gambling, but those in higher earning brackets spend more overall.
Participation around the world
There are a number of reasons for differing levels of gambling participation around the world. Some countries have a widespread, longstanding cultural acceptance of gambling, reflected in the high numbers of regular gamblers. Even in countries where gambling is prohibited by law, many players will visit offshore gambling platforms.
Europe, by some measures the largest gambling market in the world, has very high rates of gambling participation. A 2019 report from the European Betting and Gaming Association showed that 16.5 million Europeans placed bets in 2018. Interestingly, of all the European countries, Sweden has the highest percentage of its gambling market taking place online, with nearly 60% of the country’s bets made over the internet. With a 34% share of the European market, the United Kingdom is perhaps one of the single biggest markets in the world. According to surveys carried out by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), rates of online gambling participation have been steadily increasing for years. A 2020 UKGC survey showed that 47% of respondents had gambled in the past four weeks, with 21% reporting that they had gambled online.
Gambling is also widespread in many Asian countries. There may not be official numbers or statistics, but it’s well-known that gambling is extremely popular in China. While almost all forms of gambling are banned in China, a large number of offshore operations based in the Philippines cater to Chinese players.
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A 2018 study found that 51.5% of Macau residents, 52% of Singaporeans, and 61.5% of Hong Kong citizens engaged in some form of gambling. In Thailand, where gambling is officially banned, a 2019 report found that nearly 60% of the population gambles anyway. The same phenomenon extends across multiple countries in Asia — whatever the laws may be, it’s difficult for them to compete with people’s will to bet.
Countries across Africa are experiencing a boom in sports betting, with large numbers of Nigerians and Kenyans placing regular bets on football, particularly matches in European leagues. Roughly 60 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40, about a third of the population, regularly place bets, and a 2019 Geopoll survey showed that 57% of Kenyans had placed bets in the past. The rate of gambling participation jumps higher when narrowing in on the younger demographic; 76% of Kenyans aged 17-35 have tried betting.
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Elsewhere in Africa, 57% of youths in Uganda and 42% of youths in Ghana have at least tried betting. The continent’s biggest gambling market is South Africa, where engagement rates are estimated to be as high as 50%, but the development of the country’s online space is hampered by prohibitive laws that only allow for online branches of established land-based retail betting shops.
Many countries in Latin America are known for their love of football — and wherever there’s passion for a sport, a passion for betting is never far behind; nearly 60% of adults in Colombia have reported taking part in some form of betting. The Latin countries with the most high-frequency gamblers are Brazil and Peru, where 18% of respondents to a survey carried out by PR firm Sherlock Communications said they placed bets once a week.
According to the same survey, 16% of Peruvians and Colombians bet once a month or more and 38% of those surveyed — including citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru — stated that they had previously gambled.
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The biggest factors for Latin American players when choosing a bookmaker are free games, welcome bonuses, and special offers — except in Colombia, where the most important factor is the use of a local payment processor.
Australians gamble more than any other nationality, according to many estimations; reportedly, over 47% of Australians engage in some form of gambling. They also, by far, lose the most money per capita gambling, spending nearly $1000 per year on gambling, far outstripping second-place Singapore, where players lose a little over $600 per year.
Online casino gaming and sports betting are only recently becoming regulated in the United States, the country with the world’s highest overall gambling expenditure. However, players in states that have already moved forward with iGaming are quickly coming to prefer betting online; in the first year of legalization, 75% of sports bets in New Jersey were placed online.
Social casino games are also massively popular in the US. In a country with widespread passions for sports and betting, as well as a love of convenience, it’s highly likely that the state-by-state rollout of iGaming schemes will be greeted with marked enthusiasm from American players.
Player behavior — how, when, where, why, and how much
Bet size and frequency
The size and frequency of players’ bets will help online casino operators set bet limits, as well as make revenue projections and other predictions. European players can be very high-frequency bettors; according to a 2019 report by the European Betting and Gaming Association, European bettors placed a bet every 2.5 days on average throughout 2018. That year, 16.5 million European players placed a total 31.6 billion bets.
In the UK, players place bets with some regularity, but less often than in the European bettors. Among respondents to a UKGC survey, 16% gambled less than once a month, 33% gambled once a month, 31% gambled once a week, and 20% gambled twice a week.
One 2020 UK study indicated that online sports bettors wager more than those who visit retail shops. According to the study, 38.7% of online bettors wagered £10-£100 ($13.80-$138), compared to 29% of land-based bettors who wagered similar amounts.
In African countries, players tend to place a higher volume of low-value bets. It’s estimated that 30% of Nigerians bet daily, placing average bets of 300 Naira (approx. $0.78). According to a 2019 Geopoll survey, 58% of male gamblers in Kenya placed bets at least once a week. According to the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics, the average bet in the country is £1.30 ($1.80), with Kenyan punters placing as many as 180 million individual bets in a single month.
Overall, it’s no stretch of the imagination to say that online players wager more money, more often, than their land-based counterparts.
There are a number of different reasons for online players to bet on slots or sporting events. Primarily, it’s viewed as a form of entertainment — a way to relax and have fun. Many players also view it as a way to spend time with friends; it’s even increasingly common for social media users who try social casino games to move on to real money games, especially if they’re tempted by bonuses and other offers.
Aside from entertainment and socialization, another motivation is wealth. In African countries such as Kenya and Nigeria, gambling is often seen as a source of income or even a way to quickly become wealthy.
These differences in motivation could be reflected in players’ behavior. Players who view gambling as a form of entertainment or socialization might play once a week or once a month, whereas those who view it as a source of income are more likely to bet several times a week or even every day.
It’s common for players to set time limits and budgets for themselves. Often, players who set a budget will stop playing once their budget runs out, but players who follow a time limit have set aside a block of time to relax by hitting the slots. These players are more likely to increase their bet if they feel they are on a winning streak — getting the most out of the limited time they have. This betting pattern is more common for online players.
It will come as no surprise that more and more, mobile-based betting is taking over.
In Europe, the share of gambling taking place over mobile has been growing steadily each year, with mobile-based betting set to overtake desktop gambling by as early as 2022.
In the United Kingdom, a 2019 report by the UKGC found that 50% of online gamblers placed bets via mobile, with that number rising to 72% of those aged 25-34 and 76% of players aged 18-24.
The betting boom in Africa is being driven in part by mobile technology. In Kenya, one Geopoll survey found that 88% of sports bettors had placed bets via mobile, with 55% of them betting through their phone at least once a week.
Like many other industries, the future of gambling is online, and the future of iGaming is mobile. As a result, game developers are designing titles that are mobile-friendly — and even mobile-first.
Players of all experience levels enjoy online casino games. Often, social casino gamers make the leap to real-money gaming, intrigued by a sing-up bonus or other offer, and find themselves enjoying the experience.
Beginners and more experienced players will have different tastes in games. Experienced players will be familiar with Return to Player (RTP) and volatility rates, and might not be as impressed by pop culture themes as those who are new to slots.
Similarly, the more experienced a sports bettor is, the higher their expectations will be when it comes to being offered fair odds.
What people bet on
In short, online casino and sportsbook audiences have the same tastes as their offline counterparts. Player preferences, like engagement levels, vary depending on region.
Players in Europe enjoy slots, casino table games like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, and betting on horseracing and sporting events like football. The same goes for Australia and Canada.
While betting on football is popular pretty much everywhere, favored disciplines vary across different markets. Sportsbooks facing India shouldn’t forget cricket, and if you’re operating a sportsbook in Ireland it wouldn’t hurt to offer betting on local sports like hurling. In African countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and others, football betting is primarily focused on European leagues, while in Latin America punters also bet heavily on their national leagues.
One Australian study found that, comparatively, men were more likely to play strategic forms of gambling such as card games like blackjack and sports betting, while female gamblers are more likely to enjoy games of pure chance such as slots, but that might not be true in other parts of the world.
Asian players will appreciate being able to play Dragon Tiger, Sic Bo, Mahjong, and other games with regional roots. Indian players enjoy the same casino games as European players, with the addition of some region-specific games like Indian Rummy, Indian Flush, and Andar Bahar.
Today’s online player
So who is the online casino player of today? For the most part, the first picture that leaps to mind is probably accurate: young and male. In more developed countries, players also tend to have higher levels of income and education, and they’re often very interested in technology — at the very least, they live in a mobile-first world.
But a single picture isn’t enough. While males make up a higher percentage of players than females, there are still substantial numbers of female players, especially in Europe and North America. Lower-income countries have their fair share of frequent players, and while the 18-35 demographic has the lion’s share of slot players and sports bettors, huge numbers of older players spin and wager every day.
All told, while it’s safe to assume that for the most part online casino players are indeed young men, there’s more and more reason to consider female gamblers and those in other age brackets as well — at the end of the day, gambling is an equal-opportunity source of entertainment.
As one of the iGaming industry’s leading software suppliers and aggregators, Slotegrator offers everything you need to start an online casino, including turnkey platform solutions, game content, sports betting software, gambling license acquisition services, and anything else you might need to start an online casino. Get in touch with us to make 2021 the year you start a successful online casino or sportsbook.