1: What is the role of advertising in driving safer behaviours?

The challenge

Over recent years the volume of gambling advertising has grown dramatically, with the prominence of TV advertising becoming a significant public concern. Advertising sets the context in which people gamble – so might exacerbate out-of-control behaviour or, conversely, promote safe and positive gambling behaviours. More research is needed on these impacts and risks – and GambleAware is due to publish important research in 2019 – but in the meantime this table had a frank discussion about what needs to change and opened up the question of how advertising could be used better to support responsible gambling.

The discussion

Around the table there was broad consensus that there is simply too much gambling advertising on TV, especially around live sports – and that the industry could make an important move to restrict that volume. At the root of that was the urge to reduce young people’s exposure to gambling – but for that outcome, reductions in TV advertising are not the only solution. We discussed the tools that are now in place to ensure that online advertising really does only reach 18+, but that these restrictions aren’t as reliable across all online media-buying platforms.

We also discussed what is being advertised. In particular, does brand-building advertising have less direct impact on behaviours than promotions and offers – and so create less risk? There was a lot of energy for the idea that gambling advertising can be used more creatively and impactfully to help portray and create safer gambling behaviours – as a way of taking existing ‘responsible gambling’ advertising to the next level. There are good examples from other industries that have used advertising to help encourage better and safer behaviours from customers, from alcohol companies developing effective campaigns on drink driving to banks showing how customers can stay safe from fraud online. Gambling operators have the right skill sets to create a new approach to advertising that can drive the right behaviours from all customers to keep them safe.

Top solutions

  • Reduce pre-watershed TV advertising through a proactive, cross-industry commitment
  • Make positive and safer gambling habits cool, using brand ambassadors, sports club partnerships and advertising
  • Robust ‘age-gating’ for online gambling adverts and content – using sophisticated tech tools to prevent young people from accessing them