Advertising plays a key role in the success of a business. Commercials are intended to persuade people to buy a particular good or use the services of a given company. Casinos, both land-based and online, are not different from any other business entity. Hence, they rely on advertising to reach a wider audience. While land-based casinos have actual facilities to welcome players, gambling sites rely heavily on commercials to promote their services.
Many researchers delved into the nature of commercials and their influence on people’s consumer behavior. Some people are more susceptible to ad manipulation than others. As for gambling ads, these rely on promoting the bonuses a given operator offers to attract the attention of viewers.
Most commercials of this kind claim that gambling is fun, exciting, and a way of winning easy money. This message will most likely appeal to the interest of many people, even the ones that have never played casino games before. Having this in mind, can you imagine what would be the impact of these ads on people who suffer from gambling addiction?
The Size of the Gambling Advertising Market
Operators who promote their gambling services use different advertising media channels. Some of the most popular include TV and radio, social media, direct online marketing, and affiliate marketing. We can understand the logic behind this as most people watch TV every day and listen to the radio while driving. As for social media, the majority of the young population uses social networks such as Facebook and Instagram.
Affiliate marketing is yet another popular advertising channel among operators. Generally speaking, affiliates have websites to promote the services of operators. Affiliate programs are hard to control and that is why operators prefer them, circumventing gambling advertising regulations.
Direct online marketing allows operators to buy advertising space on highly frequented websites. Buying keywords in search engines is also a common practice. Nowadays, print advertising is still alive but not as popular as before because the majority of people prefer using their digital devices instead of reading newspapers.
Who Is Most Vulnerable to Gambling Problems?
For many people, gambling is a way to entertain themselves. Unfortunately, some players fall victim to gambling problems. Gambling addiction is very similar to alcohol and drug addiction. Recovery is possible but the gambling commercials do not help relapse prevention.
People who have some financial difficulties as well as the ones that lost their jobs are easy prey for advertisers. Older adults are also at increased risk of gambling problems as it is harder for them to identify gambling problems.
Interestingly, most jurisdictions that legalized gambling activities refer to vulnerability but do not define which groups are considered vulnerable. Therefore, we can safely say that everybody might be vulnerable to gambling problems at some point.
According to the UK’s main piece of gambling legislation, the Gambling Act 2005, children and adolescents are the only group that is explicitly classified as being susceptible to gambling problems. By rule, children are more impressionable than adults, making them vulnerable to ad manipulation.
How the Different Countries Regulate Gambling Commercials?
In a bid to minimize illegal activities and organized crime, some countries decided to completely ban any kind of gambling activities. Others took a different approach and regulated the gambling industry but implemented tough regulations regarding the provision of gambling services and the advertising of gambling products. It seems that the process of restricting gambling ads in Europe is trending.
The United Kingdom has always been a role model when it comes to a well-regulated gambling market. The country’s gambling regulatory body is the UK Gambling Commission that takes pride in its outstanding reputation. Among its primary missions is to prevent people from gambling harms. As a result, the Commission implemented strict rules targeting gambling commercials.
All gambling advertisements have to abide by the Advertising Codes and stimulate people to gamble responsibly. Furthermore, gambling commercials have to include the website of BeGambleAware – an organization specialized in treating gambling problems. The inclusion of a sign that gambling is prohibited for individuals under 18 years old is also mandatory.
The UK introduced a “whistle-to-whistle” ban that prohibits the broadcast of TV gambling commercials 5 minutes before a live sporting event kicks off and 5 minutes after it ends. The ban applies to sporting events that take place before the 9 pm watershed. Last year, UK lawmakers unveiled plans to ban the participation of celebrities and professional athletes in gambling ads.
Other European countries in which gambling ads are still allowed but are highly restricted include Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Poland.