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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Not your typical online gamer
Women like Margaret Nickolls, a 56-year-old financial administrator from Hertfordshire, are fuelling the growth of casual games on the net, according to a recent report. Here she explains the attraction:

Margaret Nickolls
Margaret likes to play bingo and card games on the net
I started playing games online about six months ago, when my son introduced me to it.

I'd tried the odd game before, but had never played for money. I normally play for about an hour and a half, twice a week, and I probably spend an average of 10 per week, or should I say I allow myself to lose up to 10 per week.

If I win a small amount, I normally put it back into the pot to play again, but if I win a significant amount, maybe 30 or more, I ask for it to be refunded to my credit card.

I tend to stick to the same games, and now stick to one site, Jackpotjoy, as I know it and understand how it works.

I normally play online bingo, although I would never go to a bingo hall, and I also regularly play black jack, which I enjoy playing offline too.

Big jackpots

I've been known to play the odd game on my son's PlayStation, but card games are my favourite.

Most people are only playing amounts they can afford, and are actually online for social reasons, which is probably why it attracts a lot of women.
Margaret Nickolls

And I like the interactive element of being online with other people, plus I love the visuals and sounds.

I've also learned a few tricks, such as if I play bingo early in the morning, there are fewer people online, so it's easier to win, or if I play when there are more people on line, the jackpots are bigger.

My husband isn't interested in playing games online, although he does enjoy casinos, and he doesn't mind me playing.

I've introduced my cousin, who is a more serious gambler, to the online games, and he loves it.

Like-minded people

For me, playing games online is about the pleasure of playing, not the prizes.

I've got a pressurised job and I like to play online to chill out. I don't think of myself as a gambler, and I'm certainly not addicted.

I know my way around the internet, as I use it for work as well as for pleasure.

I also play 4 on the lottery religiously every week, and I even pay by direct debit. It's part of the same hobby as the online games.

I don't think there should be any sort of 'stigma' attached to gambling online, and I certainly don't think it's making addicts out of anyone.

Most people are only playing amounts they can afford, and are actually online for social reasons, which is probably why it attracts a lot of women.

For all the women playing these games online, they've found something that interests them, and like-minded people.

What's the harm in that?

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