The UK Gambling Commission released survey data on the impact and reach of advertising, with the main figure being 34% of those surveyed saying ads had pushed them to gamble in the last 12 months.
Free bets or money to spend with an operator were the primary motivators in a customer engaging with gambling firms, with 22% of respondents saying they had done on this basis. Advertising on social media or TV prompted 15% of gamblers to wager in the last year while direct marketing prompted 9% of respondents, sports sponsorships 8% and newspaper advertising 7%.
The UKGC also queried how ads had affected gambling behaviour, with 52.8% of people who had seen traditional advertising saying that it had not affected their habits whatsoever. Thirteen per cent said these adverts had prompted them to gamble for the first time, with 16.3% saying they prompted them to increase how much they had wagered. Meanwhile, 14.7% of people were prompted to restart gambling after taking a break after seeing these ads.
Free bets or money to spend with an operator were also the primary acquisition method, with 25.9% of those who had gambled in the last year and who had seen advertising saying free bets had prompted them to gamble for the first time. Free bets were also responsible for 18.6% of viewers restarting gambling after taking a break.
At 76%, TV advertising was the most widely seen form of gambling ads, with TV/radio/podcast gambling sponsorships at 67%. Sports merchandise (60%), in sports venues (59%) and online but away from social media (56%) were also places where ads were commonly seen.
Advertising Standards Authority
Speaking of advertising, on Thursday the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reminded operators that bingo advertising is held to the same standards as other forms of gambling advertising in the UK.
The ASA stressed that bingo ads “should not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm”, citing a number of recent examples of irresponsible advertising. They also stressed that ads should not be targeting those under 18, again giving examples.
The ASA said that ads for promotions must be both honest and fair, and that all wagering requirements must be clearly stated. They also reminded operators that ads should not portray gambling as a form of escape or as a solution to financial problems.
Moving to Australia, where they are looking to create their first nationwide gambling blocking system. They intend to use Engine, the same company that spearheads the UK’s GAMSTOP initiative. Engine Australia will be involved in developing the National Self-Exclusion Register for the Australian Communications and Media Authority, with trials to begin later this year and a full launch by mid-2022.
The aim is to enable customers to self-exclude from all licensed operators through a single process. Self-exclusion can last from three months upwards, while gambling firms will be banned from directly targeting and promoting products to any self-excluded person.
Chair of the ACMA, Nerida O’Loughlin, said: “The register will make a difference for people who want help changing their gambling habits and will complement existing consumer protection measures.
“If you choose to self-exclude, this register will ensure your account is closed, your money returned, and no further advertising or promotion activity will be directed your way.
“Engine is well-placed to deliver this protection having designed and developed GAMSTOP, the United Kingdom’s self-exclusion register.”
The ACMA will also launch a consultation with industry stakeholders to aid its development.
“Through our consultation we will engage with the interactive wagering industry on the design of the system and the rules around the operation of the register,” O’Loughlin added.
“We will also work with consumers and advocacy groups to ensure that the register meets the needs of users, including putting in place robust privacy safeguards.”
In Finland, it has been announced that the loss limits imposed by the gambling monopoly Veikkaus as a precautionary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic will be made permanent.
Online casino bettors in Finland will only be able to lose a maximum of €500 per day, reduced from €1,000, with a monthly loss limit of €2,000. All online casino and slot players must also set their own daily and monthly loss limits.
The Minister of the Interior, Maria Ohisalo, stressed: “The reduced maximum loss limit has been in use for a year. Loss limits are a good way to prevent gambling harm. In addition to gambling problems, lowering the loss limit will combat over-indebtedness and livelihood problems, and I am pleased that the daily loss limit will be permanently reduced from €1,000 to €500.”
In Spain, a cooperative framework will be established to facilitate the management and sharing of data of the individual gambling self-exclusion networks of the 17 autonomous communities.
Since 2015, the autonomous communities have maintained their player gambling self-exclusion databases individually, using the DGOJ’s RGIAJ registry system. However, this provides little oversight for the DGOJ to monitor gambling disorders across Spain as RGIAJ was set up to feed the data back to the public health networks of each autonomous community.
The new agreement will enable the Consumer Affairs Ministry to launch two new projects which will help the Spanish government in their attempts to reform gambling laws at the federal level.
A Royal Decree is expected to be announced concerning ‘safer gambling environments’ for both online and retail businesses, while the Ministry is also looking to secure greater accountability for the granting of subsidies ‘to carry out research activities related to the prevention of gambling disorders.’
Edinburgh City F.C.
Finally, Scottish League Two side Edinburgh City FC have become the first club in Scotland to partner with Gambling with Lives’ big step initiative, whose primary aim is to ‘kick gambling ads out of football’.
James Grimes, founder of the Big Step, said: “We are thrilled to have the support of Edinburgh City during a pivotal time for gambling reform in this country.”
“For most of us involved with The Big Step, the harmful relationship between gambling and football was the gateway for years of addiction – if only our clubs had taken this stance, things may have been different for us.
“Football doesn’t promote tobacco because of the health risks – it’s now time for more clubs to replicate ECFC’s commendable stance on advertising gambling which is risking the health of millions of young fans.”