Have you ever played a gambling game on your mobile phone? Well, it might depend on how old you are. A recent report released by the UK Gambling Commission has found that the the number of 18 to 34 year olds gambling on their smartphones has risen rapidly from 10% of the population in 2008 to 17.5% in 2014, showing that while overall rates of gambling are quite low for this age group, participation is increasing – fast.
But before we find out why this is and what impact it’s having on this demographic, let’s take a look at who ‘millennials’ are and why they’re so important to the industry.
Millennials (or ‘Generation Y’) are those who were born in the run up to the millennium and are now in their early 20s to mid 30s. They make up a significant portion of the population (as much as a quarter, in fact) and are so important to brands and businesses (including those in the gambling industry) because they’re such a large body of consumers. And, given their ages, they’re likely to be have an amount of disposable income to spend on products and services too. From a marketing perspective, this makes them too important to be overlooked.
So how have smartphones impacted millennials’ gambling habits? Well, it’s important to appreciate that this age group has grown up with ever-more sophisticated technology. They’ve probably had a mobile phone of some description since their early teens, and are now accustomed to patting their pockets to check for their smartphones as much as they’re checking they’ve remembered their house keys and wallets! And, the average amount of time millennials spend on their mobile phones is now topping 3.2 hours every day – that’s almost a full day in every week!
Of course, this is great news for gambling companies who have been smart enough to move their services online (such as those providing online bingo games and slot machines). Technology has made smartphones capable of doing more and more, including placing bets for sport, playing online poker and even accessing online casinos, which means there’s more opportunity than ever for gambling providers to get players ‘through the door’. In fact, gambling providers have found that younger players are using their smartphones instead of desktops when gambling, and are therefore optimizing services for mobile apps to be used on the go.
So, how is the prevalence of smartphones affecting the gambling industry? Well, it’s simply making more opportunities for gambling to take place. Millennials can now gamble via social networking sites and play games through apps, and providers can even capture behavioral tracking data to inform their game design in the future.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, that all depends on who you ask. However, an interesting point to consider is that while the rates of millennials gambling is likely to increase, so too is the ability to get assistance for gambling problems: smartphones and other technology can be used to provide help, guidance and treatment for those suffering with addiction and dangerous gambling habits. This is undoubtedly a good thing due to the ease of accessibility, affordability and anonymity – things that a face to face service can rarely offer.
So, smartphones are increasing the number of millennials getting into gambling, but it might also be part of the solution to tackling the negative effects of unsafe gambling habits.