Do Gambling Ads Make Problem Gambling Worse?

When gambling expands in more places, so does gambling addiction. Some argue that ads contribute to the issue, while some deny that. Which side is right?

Let’s explore the gambling scene and the existing research!

What is known for sure is that young male adults are the most vulnerable to the power of advertising, which made online gaming a common occurrence. Normalizing this risk-tied behaviour contributes to the problem of excessive gaming. In fact, casino experts have dissected the issue in a short-scale study on Canadian teen gambling addiction quite recently. It revealed that boys are susceptible to getting addicted to gaming and the consequences can affect their school performance, as well as their social life.

Evidence behind that claim

Mark D. Griffiths has revealed in one of his studies conducted at Nottingham Trent University that:

  1. Males remember more about gambling ads than their female counterparts;
  2. Young people remember more accurately the last gambling ads they saw/heard.

This fact corroborates other studies, as well as data from addiction help centers. All sources point out that the most substantial group out of the pool of problem gambling is males, with ages ranging from adolescence towards middle age.

However, studies on the accurate effects ads have on players are scarce. The most cited sources, at least in the online world, draw a comparison between gaming and alcohol. In the case of hard liquor and the way it sells, man studies have been completed. Researchers believe that the effect of spirits ads on alcoholism may behave the same as casino ads on problem gamblers.

When conducting academic analysis, the most used tool is giving willing participants forms to complete or do one-on-one interviews. While, as we’ve said, data is still minimal even in 2021, there is a common response we notice. Most of the people who gamble within reasonable limits believe marketing does not affect them.

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Information from Denmark, a place where land-based and online games are legal, states there are three options when it comes to the respondents’ remarks:

  1. The vast majority perceives no influence of marketing on their sessions;
  2. Under 20% think there is a slight change when it comes to ads;
  3. Just 2% believe that ads play a significant role in their gaming.

Even so, we can’t deny the fact that marketing strategies, especially modern and complex ones, have a way of working at an unconscious level through subliminal messages. As fair as the Nordic results are, there might be no awareness of certain aspects.

The heavy scolders of gambling bring forth a series of criticisms. Let’s take each one and comment!

Too glamourous, too fake

One main piece of criticism from gambling adversaries is that all ads portray an overly brushed image of people who enjoy gambling. The fact is undeniable. All videos or photos show people that are dressed sharp, playing their favourite games in glitzy places. This positive image may induce an inaccurate message that all staking brings you the status of a superstar.

Unrealistic hopes and expectations

Of course, the main idea of casino marketing is that gaming brings you closer to fame and fortune. Each stake that you put on the table is your ticket to becoming wealthy. Unfortunately, playing does not mean your financial troubles disappear along the way. On the contrary, unless the gambler is keenly aware of what he or she affords to gamble, their money safety may be in jeopardy.

Promotions are too intrusive

Authorities from places that legalize gambling have been debating how ads creep up on people who may want to distance themselves from gambling. Think about it! TV or online ads based on cookie tracking are not something we can control. The struggle of someone who is often tempted to stake money is thus twice as hard.

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Gamble awareness resources recommend risk and problem gamblers to use filter software to eliminate all gaming-related things, including advertisement.

These three concerns may lead to any of these scenarios:

  • Aggravating problem gambling;
  • Creating an environment where problem gambling appears;
  • Changing the usual attitudes of players.

Social media platforms that have embedded gaming rooms, like Facebook, for example, also add to this situation. The way games are made public may induce the need to play them on specialized online casino sites where real money is at stake.

A balanced, plausible solution: marketing with social awareness.

In this day and age, the industry must think of solutions that please both sides. Casinos should be allowed to market themselves and sustain their business, while people at risk should be allowed to heal without interference.

The simplest solution is to create ads and marketing strategies that are socially aware of the risks associated with casino play or sports betting. There should be no misleading content and push towards balanced and responsible gaming.

To conclude, the literature and data we have so far cannot truly determine a direct connection between casino ads and an increase in gambling addiction cases. The evidence we have so far is small, too personal and anecdotal. Although intuitively, we may see a connection between the ad and the product, we are yet to determine if it’s a positive or negative one.

But, for the sake of all groups involved, we should move towards truthful ads about gambling. They should show the fun aspect of it, enjoyed by millions worldwide, and the dangers of overdoing it. Social responsibility on the part of advertisers should solve or prevent many threatening issues.