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    Demographics And Behavioral Patterns Of Online Gamblers Scaled

    Demographics and Behavioral Patterns of Online Gamblers

    Article by : Svetozar Kuzman Jun 17, 2024

    Not all people gamble equally, and not all people are equally likely to engage in online gambling. While there are some well-known demographic and behavioral patterns relating to “traditional”, offline gambling, online casinos have been around only for a short while.

    This is why today we’ll focus on online gambling and uncover its most important demographic and behavioral aspects. We’ll talk about who gambles online the most, the least, which countries have the most online gamblers relative to their respective populations, things like that. While in certain aspects online gambling can be quite similar to offline gambling, it departs from the traditional way of gambling in numerous other aspects.

    Gender Patterns

    One of the most well-known facts about offline gambling is that there are more men involved in it compared to women. But what about online gambling? Chances are that here too we can observe similar patterns. For instance, an Iranian study reported that out of all people who gamble online, 74.7% are males compared to 25.3% of women.

    Interestingly, although men gamble more frequently both in online and offline settings, women online gamblers may have a higher prevalence of problem gambling (24%), in comparison to men who gamble online (10% have problem gambling). How do we explain these findings?

    So, while online gambling is widespread among males, it’s not as common in females. Virtual gambling can be an activity that draws mostly women who are at-risk of developing a gambling addiction, while men have a sizable group of non-risky (as well as risky) gamblers. Simply put, virtual gambling may not seem as a too interesting pastime to women who don’t have a predisposition to develop problematic patterns of use.

    It’s similar to other types of addictions. While men are more likely to engage in alcohol or drug use in comparison to females and have a lot of problem drinkers and addicts, women either use little to no alcohol or drugs, or overindulge in these substances.

    There’s another important consideration: report bias. Namely, due to social stigma and social gender expectations, men may be less likely to report mental health problems, including addictions. This can artificially reduce the prevalence rates of addictions among males.

    Age Patterns

    It seems that online gambling is more common among younger people (around 18 to 34 years of age) Importantly, gambling is generally more common in younger people, and the technology acceptance and use being more common among younger people, it is quite logical that younger people would in turn gamble online more. Younger people tend to be more impulsive and risk-taking.

    It’s important to note that there are many underage online gamblers. While it’s fairly tricky to investigate underage gambling, a study has shown that around 6.5% of Spanish Galician adolescents may engage in online gambling, with a mean age of 15 years. 9 out of 10 are males.

    We still don’t know the longitudinal patterns of online gambling, because it’s been around for a short while, and it has only gained real popularity since the recent pandemic.

    Game Patterns and Motives

    According to the Gambling Commision of the UK, these are the most popular online games (past 12 months use):

    1. Roulette (36% of participants played this game)
    2. Blackjack (27%)
    3. Poker (29%)
    4. Baccarat (10%)
    5. Keno (9%)

    24% of online gamblers in this study reported they spent more than they should have; 77% said that online games are highly captivating with 28% reporting they had online gambling binges where they couldn’t control themselves.

    Furthermore 14% of participants said they increase the stakes when losing, 67% do not change the stakes, and 19% increase the stakes when winning.

    As for the motives relating to online gambling, these are the top ones, according to Statista:

    1. It’s fun (41%)
    2. There’s a possibility of winning a lot of money (27%)
    3. Enhance the experience of another activity, such as sport events (18%)
    4. It’s a social activity (12%)
    5. It has become a part of routine (11%)
    6. It’s a good way to make money (11%)
    7. It is something that demands skill (7%)

    Online Gambling Across the World

    While virtual gambling is becoming more and more prevalent globally, there are some significant differences across the world.

    1. In the US, around 19.2% of people engage in online gambling.
    2. 12.5% of Europeans gamble online.
    3. Virtual gambling is not as common in Africa, where it has a market penetration of around 1.6%.
    4. In Asia, the official rate of virtual gaming is 1.5%.
    5. According to Statista, Australia and Oceania have the highest rate of online gambling – 21.9%.

    You have to take all these statistics with a pinch of salt. Let’s focus for a while on the prevalence of online gambling in Asia. According to Statista in Asia there’s only around 1.5% penetration rate for virtual gambling. For instance, China prohibits all types of gambling and this country generally has a strict control over the statistics relating to sensitive topics that may affect the reputation of China globally, such as their GDP or gambling rates. This is why Statista may not always have the access to such markets, ultimately lacking reliable estimates. However, we’ve been able to find some worrying statistics relating to China – namely, up to 17% of Chinese have problematic online gambling habits. Due to its methods of data collection, Statista experts likely didn’t include these results in their analyses.

    For some Asian countries, on the other hand, we simply may not have enough studies covering the topic. India, although overseeing a marked increase in internet penetration, still lacks reliable, peer-reviewed studies that would provide rough estimates of online gambling prevalence. It’s likely that a lot of people in India gamble online, but they are still not in the official statistics.

    Therefore, we believe that Statista’s estimate of virtual gambling penetration in Asia is a bit of an underestimation. The same goes for Africa, where peer-reviewed studies are also lacking, but where we have more and more internet users and smartphones, which makes it possible for online gambling to spread.

    Now comes the question that everyone’s been waiting for. Who gambles the most online? Which country?

    Over 19 million Canadians, so more than 50% of Canadians report gambling online. Canada has some pretty lenient gambling laws, for instance in Canada you’re not required to pay taxes for your wins, so that may be the reason why a lot of people decide to gamble online as a way of entertaining themselves. Canadians also earn a lot of money and have a high standard of living, while living in a somewhat harsh climate that doesn’t leave too much space for outdoor activities. So relative to the total population, Canada is one of countries with the most online gamblers per capita.

    In the last few years it seems that Indonesia has become, in a way, the hub for online gambling providers. This has happened mainly because China prohibits all types of gambling but still has a gigantic market and a lot of people who want to gamble virtually. A lot of Indonesians continue to gamble online, in spite of a recent crackdown on Indonesian online gambling websites, which saw more than 2 million websites shut down, according to Joko Widodo, Indonesian president. However, gambling is illegal in Indonesia so gathering reliable data may be challenging.


    There’s a number of implications that we can draw from our findings. First of all, online gamblers tend to be younger people and are more likely to be males. Younger people are also more likely to be impulsive and risk-taking, which is why it’s reasonable to assume that young males may be one of the target groups of online gambling websites.

    Next, we’ve seen that according to Statista the rates of online gambling in Asia and Africa are very low. In our opinion this is an understatement, due to a lack of reliable data from these two continents. However, it is clear that with the sharp rise of Internet and smartphone penetration in these two continents, more and more people will find online gambling and engage in it. In Asia especially, where there are usually strict laws against gambling, online gambling may seem to be a safer way to access this type of entertainment. It isn’t thus surprising that hubs of online gambling tend to spring up across Asia, most notably in Indonesia.

    Asia and Africa therefore may seem like lucrative markets for online gambling companies, provided their games are adapted for smartphones (iOS and Android). While smartphones are becoming and have already become fairly common in Asia and Africa, computers are still rare, meaning that most people can only access online games via their smartphones. In any case, younger generations use computers less and smartphones more, which is another reason to double-down on smartphone optimization.

    Future Directions and Wrap-up

    Perhaps the most important finding is that there’s a relative lack of reliable studies on online gambling. Although this form of entertainment has been around for some time, it’s relatively hard to find high-quality studies that would allow us to draw straightforward conclusions regarding, for instance, whether there are differences in popularity of online games across different countries. Perhaps people in Indonesia prefer online poker while Serbians love online slot machines? We just don’t know.

    It has to be said that it’s somewhat challenging to gather data on online gambling. A lot of websites in this niche exist somewhere in the gray legal area, and some are straightforwardly illegal. Even those that are completely legal may be weary about sharing data on their players for research purposes.

    However, we’ve been able to gather some interesting demographics and behavioral patterns of online gamblers, painting a comprehensive picture of the current situation in this niche.

    Svetozar Kuzman

    Svetozar is a psychologist with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the University of Belgrade, where he studied at the Faculty of Philosophy in the Psychology Department, specifically focusing on Clinical Psychology. With a passion for understanding and helping individuals with addiction disorders, Svetozar has worked extensively in mental health hospitals in Belgrade, concentrating on gambling addiction in particular.