#WeAllWantToPlay: Gender Diversity in the Gambling and Betting Sector

We All Want To Play: Gender Diversity

Micky Swindale, Director, Advisory, KPMG in the Isle of Man talks about the opportunities and challenges facing women in the Gambling and Betting Sectors.


At our recent eGaming Summit in Gibraltar, I ran a workshop on gender diversity with the assistance of Susan Breen, Head of Gaming at Mishcon de Reya.  We were a bit unsure about the attendance we would get – especially as the session was running at the same time as a very interesting speaker in the main conference room – but we were overwhelmed by the turnout, and the quality and intensity of the debate that followed. 

What was scheduled to last 30 minutes turned into 90, and the women (sadly it was mainly women although I heard afterwards that a small group of men heading for the workshop were startled into flight by an unidentified woman who told them “It’s for women!” – an own-goal for gender diversity if ever there was one) present left us in little doubt as to the opportunity available to the sector.

The opportunity

So what is that opportunity?  Well it is threefold:

1. Talent: Women are not achieving and progressing to senior positions in equal proportion to men in any industry (as the chart shows). In the case of the gaming industry, whilst we don’t have conclusive statistics available at present, the perception is that women are much less likely to join in the first place particularly in the growth area of online gambling(1). Where 60% of graduates are female, that is an awful lot of talent to miss out on.

2. Performance: There are endless statistics and studies to show that diverse boards perform better. McKinsey have been looking at this area since 2008 and their studies, and others, have found that net profits and returns on equity are statistically significantly higher for boards with a higher proportion of women. 

As KPMG’s Head of Global Relationships, Isabelle Allen, points out, this is likely to become more, not less, important: “We are going through an unprecedented period of change, and what worked in the past is not likely to work in the future, and no single person has the answer. We therefore need
 to equip ourselves with different perspectives and adopt a different approach to looking at issues, including different leadership styles.

“This is where the women agenda comes into play, not as a gender issue, but a different way of looking at things and a different working style. Women challenge the status quo in a different way and bring a different perspective to boards.” 

3. Customers: When we look at online gaming, as opposed to gambling, the statistics are telling: 52% of gamers are women. Whereas, apart from bingo, the verticals of gambling and betting woefully underperform on participation by women.

Despite the fact gambling prevalence statistics show similar levels of interest in gambling by women and men, only 12.8% of women gamble online compared with 20% of men.  And who can blame them when the advertising approach and style employed by most gaming operators strongly implies they are only interested in attracting male customers? (Though notably bingo advertising has moved away from gender-specific advertising, with omnipresent pink, to a much more inclusive approach – with the commercially pleasing result of increasing participation by men to 30%.) 

The Challenge

The problem is, even if the gaming industry has the appetite to improve its performance in this area (and let’s face it, putting to one side the commercial opportunity already set out, it could do with the positive PR that could result!), it may not find it easy.

The 30% Club was launched as a campaign in the UK in 2010 with a goal of achieving a minimum of 30 per cent women on FTSE-100 boards by 2015. KPMG has worked with them to produce research (2) to assist the leaders of those organisations to achieve that goal but in our recent update Revisiting the Executive Pipeline (3), the progress reported was, to say the least, disappointing (see chart).

The report reluctantly concluded that, based on this progress: “At Executive Committee level, we cannot confidently predict a timescale for women to ever reach a 30 per cent tipping point”.

So the question remains how can we all get to play? If you would like to work with us to answer that question, please get in touch.


1. The Think Future research published by KPMG in conjunction with the 30% Club in April 2016 showed that 55% of female undergraduates polled said that the reputation a sector has for gender equality would influence their decision about working in it.

2. Cracking the Code (March 2014) and View From the Top (January 2016), published by KPMG in conjunction with YSC and the 30% Club.

3. Revisiting the Executive Pipeline (July 2016), published by KPMG in conjunction with YSC and the 30% Club.

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