Sports betting and advertising

AGRC Discussion Paper No. 4 – November 2014

Impacts of gambling advertising

  • Advertising typically depicts gambling as exciting, glamorous and skillful, promising easy financial and social rewards.
  • Youth and problem gamblers appear to be especially influenced by gambling advertising.
  • Bonus offers for sports betting appear to particularly increase Internet gambling among problem gamblers.

Advertising typically depicts gambling as an exciting, glamorous and attainable lifestyle promising easy financial and social rewards. Gambling is often portrayed as a routine, everyday activity and it is increasingly likened to sport (Derevensky, Gupta, Messerlian, & Mansour, 2009; McMullan, 2011; McMullan, Miller, & Perrier, 2012; Monaghan et al., 2008).

Gambling advertising appears to have more impact on certain groups of people. Research has shown that youth have high exposure to gambling advertising and may be particularly influenced by it (Derevensky et al., 2007; Derevensky, Sklar, Gupta, & Messerlian, 2010; Friend & Ladd, 2009; Korn, Hurson, & Reynolds, 2005; Korn, Reynolds, & Hurson, 2005). Adolescents and children are aware of and can recall specific slogans and jingles and may feel they are being groomed to gamble (Amey, 2001; Korn, Hurson et al., 2005; Korn, Reynolds et al., 2005). Further, research has revealed that advertisements can increase adolescents' desire to experiment with gambling and prompt a gambling session (Derevensky et al., 2007; Korn, Hurson et al., 2005; Korn, Reynolds et al., 2005). Greater media exposure to gambling advertisements and promotions has also been associated with more positive youth gambling attitudes and intentions towards gambling (Hing, Vitartas & Lamont, 2014; Lee, Lemanski, & Jun, 2008).

Gambling advertising themes

Within television advertising, gambling is portrayed as …

  • like a sport;
  • a natural activity;
  • a way to enhance your status;
  • a reprieve from mundane activities;
  • part of a routine;
  • a way to prosper;
  • a reoccurring activity;
  • a positive, life-changing force.

Source: McMullan & Miller (2008)

Online gamblers are also influenced by gambling advertising. One-tenth of Internet gamblers reported that marketing and promotions were critical to their initial uptake and 29% reported increased online gambling expenditure as a result of viewing promotions (Hing, Gainsbury et al., 2014). However, this marketing has had less success in converting non-gamblers to gambling (Binde, 2009; Hing, Cherney et al., 2014).

Gambling advertising can have particularly negative impacts on problem gamblers. Compared to other gamblers, problem gamblers report gambling advertisements as being a greater stimulation to gamble , a larger influence on spending more than intended, and an encouragement to them to think they can win (Binde, 2014; Clarke et al., 2006; 2007; Schottler Consulting, 2012). Problem gamblers also report that gambling advertisements can remind them about gambling, trigger gambling urges, provide inducements to gamble, further increase gambling involvement and undermine attempts to moderate their gambling (Hing, Cherney et al., 2014). Bonus offers for sports betting, such as money-back guarantees and “free" bets that require matching deposits appear to particularly increase Internet gambling among problem gamblers (Hing, Cherney et al., 2014). Youth problem gamblers also report stimulation to gamble from gambling advertisements (Derevensky et al., 2010; Felsher, Derevensky, & Gupta 2004a; 2004b; Korn, Reynolds et al., 2005).

Gambling advertising to date has not been found to motivate many people to commence gambling; however, it can increase gambling among existing gamblers (Binde, 2007; 2009; 2014; Derevensky et al., 2010; Hing, Cherney et al., 2014). Advertisements have particular potential for harm if they reinforce inaccurate beliefs about gambling and increase gambling among people who are already heavy gamblers (Productivity Commission, 1999; Schottler Consulting, 2012).