Sports betting and advertising

AGRC Discussion Paper No. 4 – November 2014

Impacts of sports betting advertising

  • The vast majority of adults and adolescents watch televised sport and are therefore exposed to embedded gambling promotions.
  • Sports-embedded gambling promotions can normalise gambling, especially among children, adolescents and young adult men.
  • These promotions are likely to increase sports betting problems, especially among existing sports bettors and problem gamblers.

Many young men consider sports-embedded betting promotions as unavoidable, unnecessary and aggressive, sending a dangerous message about the social acceptance of gambling and its normalised association with being a sports fan (Thomas, Lewis, McLeod et al., 2012). Peer pressure to gamble has reportedly increased among young men, as friendship groups have regular discussions about sports betting odds (Thomas, Lewis, McLeod et al., 2012). University students who watch more gambling-sponsored sports broadcasts were found to be more likely to use the sponsors' products, especially students who already have gambling problems (Hing et al., 2013). Even children can correctly assign gambling sponsors to particular sports or teams (Pettigrew, Ferguson, & Rosenberg, 2013).

The vast majority of adults and adolescents watch televised sport and are therefore exposed to these promotions. In Queensland, over half of adults and two-fifths of adolescents could recall, unprompted, at least one gambling brand from watching televised sport (Hing, Vitartas, & Lamont, 2014). Further, adults, adolescents and sports bettors who were exposed to more sports-embedded gambling promotions were found to have greater intentions to bet on sports (Hing, Vitartas, & Lamont, 2014). Additionally, sports bettors with gambling problems in Queensland reported that these promotions had worsened or maintained their problems (Hing, Vitartas, & Lamont, 2014). Problem gamblers were particularly attracted to promotions featuring micro-bets placed on short-term contingencies during match play (Hing, Vitartas, & Lamont, 2014). Thus, these promotions are likely to be increasing sports betting participation and sports betting problems, especially among existing sports bettors and problem gamblers.

Research into the effects of sports-embedded gambling promotions is in its infancy. Early research suggests that it is increasing gambling participation, gambling problems and the normalisation of gambling among adults, adolescents and children.