Does gambling advertising cause unplanned gambles?

31 August 2022

There is turmoil across Western Europe regarding advertising and sponsorship by the gambling industry. In the Netherlands, it seems clear that after 1 January 2025, there will be minimal opportunities for licensees to advertise or sponsor sports clubs. Substantial changes are also expected with the amendment of the Gamble Act in Great Britain. A sponsorship ban is also close in Belgium and will probably not stop there in Europe. Why is there so much pressure on gambling operators after it has become legal to place online betting?

Protection of vulnerable groups

Online bookmakers and casinos advertise, of course, are apparent. With this, they want to persuade the consumer to choose their site or brand if they decide to gamble. However, concerned governments and citizens wonder to what extent the promotion of their brand will ensure that people who previously did not also gamble and perhaps vulnerable groups start betting more and, as a result, could get into trouble. Recently there has been a significant study in Great Britain that also sought an answer to this question.

No causal relationship was demonstrated, but concerns about outcomes.

The study by a British university involved about 3,000 people with experience with online gambling. In addition to many other questions, what also provided information about the influence of advertising on gaming behaviour? Just over 30% of those surveyed indicated that they sometimes place a bet after seeing an advertisement that was not planned. In the (relatively small) group of participants identified as vulnerable, this percentage was much higher, approaching 70%. It raised concerns among the researchers.

The investigation report makes it clear that a causal relationship has not been established between watching a bookmaker’s advertisement and placing an unplanned bet. This would require a much more extensive and more detailed investigation into the motives of the gamblers. However, the difference in percentage between the whole group and the people considered to be vulnerable was cause for concern for the researchers. Opponents of gambling advertising may also use the report.