Targeting the silver surfer

Targeting the silver surfer

James Parker, head of content at online casino affiliate, discusses the rise of “granny gamblers” and why operators should do more to target older player demographics

In recent months, the online casino industry has been laser-focussed on Millennials. They are seen as the route to a profitable and sustainable business in the long-term, so have been shunted to the front of the queue when it comes to operators’ product and marketing strategies. And rightly so. But here at, we have analysed a raft of data from the Gambling Commission and identified another demographic of player whose participation in online gambling has been on a major upward trajectory; 65+ year-olds or, as we like to call them, “granny gamblers”.

According to the data, the number of senior citizens playing online casino and poker games has more than doubled in the past three years, rising from just 3% of the population back in June 2013 to 7% in the same month this year. Taken as a whole, it is still very much a niche demographic, but with their participation continuing to rise, operators and marketers need to be doing more to reach out and engage them with the games and features they like. To better understand how to do this, it is worth looking more closely at how senior citizens access egaming sites, and the sort of games they like to play. 

Desktop dwellers

In terms of the platform “granny gamblers” use to access online casino and poker sites, they are very much desktop dwellers – the majority prefer to gamble from the comfort of their own home while sat at a computer. A small number are starting to access sites via mobile and tablet devices, but for the time being desktop is very much their weapon of choice. Of course, this goes against the grain of the wider egaming industry, where mobile is the driving force behind growth. But operators would do well not to neglect their desktop platforms, and to ensure they are developed and modernised alongside mobile.

The main areas of focus should be user experience and making sure it is as simple, intuitive, and seamless as possible. The other is content, and offering a portfolio packed with relevant and engaging games. But what sort of games do senior citizens like to play? Bingo is an obvious one, but more complex games such as poker, blackjack, and some slots also take their fancy. In fact, games with an element of skill are often recommended by health professionals as a way of keeping their brains active and nimble. It’s also important to offer low buy-ins and small jackpots; senior citizens tend to play for fun rather than to win big. 

Sensible bonusing

The same approach needs to be taken towards incentives and rewards. The majority of “granny gamblers” are not attracted to crazy sign-up offers and bonkers bonusing; they are playing because it is a form of entertainment they can have easy and regular access to. That is partly why bingo games are so popular; they have low buy-ins, are easy to understand, and offer a social environment in which players can talk to one another. Indeed, socialisation within games is something operators and developers need to explore further, not just to improve the experience for senior citizens but other player groups too.

The way sites and games are advertised to “granny gamblers” also requires careful consideration. For many of their generation, there is still a stigma surrounding gambling and betting, and operators and marketers need to take this into consideration. Branding needs to be subtle and welcoming, and to convey a sense of friendliness and trust. Again, bingo operators are taking the lead here, and in particular Gala Bingo with its “Play Happy” campaign. It goes without saying, too, that traditional above the line methods – TV, print, etc – are far more effective than guerrilla tactics and social media.

All things to all people

As I mentioned earlier, “granny gamblers” are very much a niche demographic for online casino operators and it is understandable that most will be reluctant to invest large sums into developing products, games and marketing campaigns for a limited ROI. In reality, however, very little work needs to be done. Operators simply need to ensure their desktop UX remains smooth and simple, and that they offer a broad portfolio of games and themes. When coupled together with a sensible approach to marketing, all the ingredients are there to activate a new customer group and unlock additional revenues.

The increase in senior citizens playing online casino games only looks set to continue, driven by a number of factors, including: computer, mobile and tablet penetration among their age group trending upwards, them becoming ever-more adept at using technology, and a growing number embracing mobile and tablet devices and using them in their everyday lives. As such, their demographic has the potential to expand into a sizeable customer base and revenue generator. What’s more, over the years they are likely to ditch desktop play altogether, and follow the masses towards mobile and tablet.

The operators who make small tweaks and changes now and welcome “granny gamblers” into the fold will be best placed to unlock the true potential of this demographic in the future. Those who don’t could find themselves very much behind the curve. 

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