Fifty shades of gaming
The “traditional” division between casual, gaming addicted and professional players is overcome by European studies that highlight much more diversified attitudes, but the perception of the increasing importance of online compared to land-based gaming is common.
by Michael Haile
We talk and write a lot about the characteristics and expenditure of the world of gaming with cash winning, but very little about the profile of the players, except when we talk about the topic of gaming addiction. Of course, players with gaming addiction problems are a very important element, but the gaming world is also made up of other and different profiles.
So, who are the ones who indulge in gaming? Historically, gamblers were divided into three categories: casual players, gaming addicted players and professional players.
The casual ones treat gaming as an amusement, but they are moderate and self-controlled. On the other hand, gaming addicted gamblers are impulsive, spend beyond their means, generally get into debt to play, have problems in the family and chase their losses by betting higher and higher sums. In fact, they are as addicted to gaming as the alcoholic is to alcohol. On the contrary, the professional player is a thoughtful player, because he gets his income only from “skill” games, such as poker, blackjack or backgammon and tends to avoid almost all other games. He is good at math and probability theory, and he is organised.
Instead, the Uk Gambling Commission (Gc) has identified eight types of players, using a more sophisticated way to catch a wider range.
1. Those who consider playing a wise decision
For this kind, gambling is a matter of skill. They are confident in their ability to do it right, which is why they get excited about turning gaming events into another opportunity to test their skills, especially in front of others. Most of them mainly play poker, but also lotteries and sports betting. We can also say that professional players are in this category.
2. Those who play to socialize
Gambling is something that is done with friends. For these kind of players, playing is just a way of being together, it makes no difference whether it’s poker or Monopoly, as long as it’s a friendly competition, adding more excitement to an event or just having some fun. Most of them participate in horse racing and sports betting, bingo in halls, land-based casinos and gambling halls, and are casual players.
3. Those who play because others do
Those who play because others do are those who are considered passive players. They are not particularly interested in gambling, but they only practice it because it is what their friends do, even this could have dramatic costs. Half of these players are mainly dedicated to lotteries and scratch and win, but there is a minority who focus on slots and play bingo in the halls.
4. Those who play because they feel lucky
This is the kind of players who love to take risks and who almost always have the feeling that this is the “good” day. They can’t help but play in order not to lose the chance to win. Those who feel lucky generally play almost everything, but their favorite games are sports betting and horse racing, as well as both online and land-based slots. Most gaming addicted players are this category.
5. Those who have money to burn
Players who have money to burn are casual players. They play when they have extra money, it doesn’t matter to them if they lose, as it’s just a little vice they allow themselves once in a while: if they win is good, if they lose, never mind! This type plays both online and in person. Almost half of them play lotteries and scratch and win, as well as bingo and slots, with a small percentage making sports betting.
6. Those who play because they want to enjoy some time for themselves
There are people who go to the park to read and those who go to the bar with the newspaper to get a little away from the world, and then there are those who play to enjoy and have some time with themselves. These players love to play and if they win it is an added reward. Generally, they are not gaming addicted, but it is possible that they move from the category of non-problematic players to that of problematic ones. The favorite games of these solitaire players are sports betting and horse racing, both land-based and online slots, lotteries.
7. Those who play by habit
The habit of playing is created when a person has been practicing it for a long time. It is the equivalent of a person who has been driving for a long time and who doesn’t notice when he changes gears, as he does it unconsciously. These players don’t spend much, usually on lotteries or scratch and win. Playing for them is a little vice or a gift, regardless of whether they win or not. Most women who play are in this category. Nearly 60 percent of these regular players play lotteries, scratch and win and sports betting, with a strong minority playing bingo in the halls or the arcades. They are mostly players who prefer to do it in person and not much online.
8. Those who play because they want to win money
The “first” motivation of these players is money. Gambling is just another vehicle for getting money. This type of player likes the idea of winning, even if the odds are slim. More than 80 percent of them play lottery and scratch and win, as they are the only types of cash games that can change their lives.
A research conducted by the University of Lethbridge in Canada and the University of Queensland and Sydney in Australia shows that there is a difference between online players and those who prefer to play in person. Those online tend to be younger, mostly male, come from a socio-economic background higher than the average, and have a higher level of education. But Covid-19 is changing both the demography and the characteristics of those playing online, and it is particularly interesting to see the increase in the over 60 and 50 among those who gamble online in the Uk.
In Sweden, where more than 60 percent of adults have played at least once in 2019, 62 percent of gamblers say they do it for entertainment, so they belong to the casual player category, while 31 percent say they want to win big, so they can be defined as players motivated by money. 30 percent of Swedish players practice sports betting and casino.
In the UK, 23.4 percent of adults played online in 2020 (26.7 percent of men and 20.6 percent of women) and the great majority of them are persons between 35-64 year olds. In Sweden, however, just over 24 percent of the population plays online, 85-87 percent of them on illegal websites. Swedish players who play on offshore websites do so mainly because they are attracted to bonuses.
Italy. As for Italy, there are no data that capture the socio-economic level or other characteristics of the players, but some data that give a general idea of them. The Italian approach to identifying the type of players is almost always a clinical one. The Istituto Superiore di Sanità, for example, has identified four groups of players using the Problem Gambling Severity Index (Pgsi) method, which is actually designed to identify problematic gamblers. On the basis of this research, players without any gaming problems (26.5 percent) were identified, in practice those who play for recreational purpose and to socialize. The second category is that of low-risk players (4.1 percent), who by definition are those who only once in a while have presented risky attitudes, but who don’t suffer from addiction. The third category is that of moderate risk players (2.8 percent), who often present the attitudes of pathological players and are therefore at high risk of becoming that. Finally, the group of highly problematic gamblers (3 percent), who present attitudes that are harmful both to themselves and to their family and society in general. Analyzing the available data, the characteristics of the players in mature markets are very similar, only the gaming channel (online or land-based) changes. But in the long run it is unavoidable that online gaming is intended to replace a large part of that in person, especially when 5G mobile phones will be widespread.