Changing the online gaming habits of millennials


The popular view of millennials is that they spend every waking moment of their lives online. They’ve grown up with computers and digital entertainment, and came of age in the first flush of social media. Now they’re perfectly adapted to swapping between multiple digital platforms, surfing the net on their laptops, phones and iPads – sometimes simultaneously.

The other truism about millennial adults is that they’ve never left behind the games of their youth. This generation likes to play, and that should be good news for the purveyors of online gaming. But despite their supposed short attention spans and desire for novelty, under-35s are actually quite picky in terms of what gaming activities they take part in. Specifically, research suggests that millennials are not taking part in casino games – online or off – in anything like the same number that previous generations did.

Shared culture

Millennials are certainly keen online game players, but they very much favor immersive video games rather than those based on more traditional activities. The reasons for this are varied. Video gaming is still a young, fast-developing form, and it’s one that the millennials grew up with. The format belongs to their generation, attracting significantly less interest and empathy from older players. Video games offer a level of engagement and escapism that parallels the films, TV shows and even comic books that millennials also consume, and are an integral part of the shared culture of anyone under 35.

In contrast, card games, slot machines, roulette and the like are associated with their parents’ generation, even online. Less likely to fit in with millennials’ self-image, they’re perceived to be lacking in excitement and innovation. It’s also been suggested that younger players have less money to spend on gambling, and that by nature millennials are more fiscally conservative than generation X or baby boomers.

Adapt to survive

One may wonder why the gaming industry as a whole has so far failed to tackle this problem. After all, as older players leave the table, attracting the custom of the younger generation will become increasingly urgent. Some online casinos are waking up to this. For instance, 888casino recognizes the challenges of reaching a millennial audience, and points out the need for the industry to up its game to reach younger players. Forward thinking companies such as 888 are already seeking to tackle this issue and attract millennials to the table. Given that the average age of online players continues to shift lower, the millennial audience is a valuable sector that gaming companies can’t afford to ignore. It is likely that trends will continue to evolve, and responding to these demographic shifts will be crucial for the future success of the industry.

Unfortunately, although there are signs that more millennials are starting to embrace online casinos, the casino sites will still need to actively target players under 40 in order to survive. The sheer quantity of gaming options now available means that any niche – especially those based on traditional forms – needs to fight for visibility.

Ways forward

Integrating elements from video gaming or including interactive content that customizes the experience for individual gamers are among possible ways forward. Optimizing online casino gaming for mobile platforms is another, as smartphones represent a rapidly growing market segment for online gambling. Multi-use smartphones are of course near ubiquitous among millennials.

As gambling becomes more socially acceptable, it shouldn’t be too hard to sell online casino games as a cool, fun and slightly edgy pastime that will draw the millennials away from “Call of Duty” and “Grand Theft Auto,” and back to online poker and blackjack.