Lockdown ‘leads gamblers from sports bets to riskier choices’

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Gambling companies now embed promotional messages within sport broadcasts to obtain heightened brand presence and avoid ad-skipping (Devecioglu, 2013). Lamont et al. (2011, p. 248) confirm the practice as widespread in Australia by 2009 when, for example, 43 gambling companies sponsored 14 of the 16 NRL สถิติหวยฮานอย วีไอพี teams. This sponsorship provides sponsor exposure at sporting grounds, during sports broadcasts on free-to-air and Pay TV and radio, in print media, and via the Internet and mobile phones (JSCGR, 2011). Paid sports betting advertising during sport telecasts is also increasing, with a purchased Ebiquity Research List identifying 3069 individual advertisements relating to sports betting in 2012, not including on social media. Sports betting operators also purchase television advertising rights with the major Australian football leagues, reportedly for sums of AU$40–$50 million per year (Gardner, 2014, p. 20).

This ‘blizzard of advertising’ in Australian sports broadcasts (Horn, 2011, not paginated) includes promotions embedded into broadcast match play including gambling sponsored segments, on-screen displays of logos and betting websites, logos on player uniforms, stadium signage, and celebrity endorsement of gambling brands, as well as paid advertisements during commercial breaks (Lamont et al., 2012, McMullan, 2011, Milner et al., 2013, Thomas, Lewis, Duong and McLeod, 2012). Until recently, corporate bookmakers joined match commentary teams to facilitate vigorous advertorial discussion around live betting odds for each match, as well as odds for upcoming events. These live odds refer to updates, during an event, of the odds for particular outcomes relating to that event (Nettleton, 2013). Other marketing techniques have included promotion of novelty and exotic bets on match events embedded into in-match commentary, accompanied by on-screen displays of changing odds and live studio cross-overs to bookmakers discussing the movement of odds (Lamont et al., 2011, Milner et al., 2013). However, community outcry and concerns debated during three government inquiries (Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), 2013, Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform (JSCGR), 2011, Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform (JSCGR), 2013) prompted Australian Government pressure to curtail the promotion of live odds during televised sport. Broadcast advertising codes were amended accordingly, effective from 1 August 2013 (Nettleton, 2013). However, the other promotional practices continue, including the promotion of live odds in sports broadcasts immediately before match commencement.

Research confirms the proliferation of gambling promotions during televised sport. An audit of eight AFL match broadcasts in 2011 reveals that seven leading wagering brands were promoted during 50.5 separate marketing episodes totalling 4.8 min per match (Thomas, Lewis, Duong, et al., 2012). Similarly, an audit of two weeks of NRL and AFL programs in early 2012, comprising five matches and two associated entertainment programs, identifies 72 gambling promotions and advertisements, constituting 2.5% of observed broadcast time (Milner et al., 2013). Embedded promotions are the dominant technique. The researchers conclude that extensive product integration potentially optimizes these promotions’ effectiveness, while their personal relevance, empathy, information and congruence align well with young male target audiences with interests in football and sports betting. Other researchers comment on the synergetic relationship between sport and betting, with related advertising capitalizing on fan loyalty, notions of masculinity, sporting knowledge and the image of sport as healthy, harmless fun (Hing et al., 2013; Lamont et al., 2011, McMullan, 2011, Thomas, Lewis, McLeod and Haycock, 2012).One stream of gambling advertising research focuses on effects on problem gamblers. In a qualitative study of 31 treatment-seeking and 50 non-treatment seeking Internet gamblers (Hing, Cherney, et al., 2014), promotions for sports betting and other Internet gambling forms invoked urges to gamble, including amongst those actively attempting to limit or cease gambling. A proportion of treatment-seekers reported increased gambling, particularly associated with bonus offers for sports bets requiring matched deposits, but this was less common amongst non-treatment seekers. These findings are consistent with previous studies finding that gambling advertising triggers gambling amongst some problem gamblers, with 46% of 131 pathological gamblers in one study reporting this effect from television, radio and billboard advertisements (Grant & Kim, 2001). Similarly, Binde (2009) reports that gambling advertisements and promotions remind problem gamblers about gambling, arouse urges to gamble, provide inducements to gamble, increase already high gambling involvement and undermine decisions to curtail gambling. Derevensky et al. (2010) conclude that gambling advertising helps to maintain established gambling patterns, including amongst problem gamblers, although it is less effective in converting non-gamblers to gamblers (Hing, Cherney, et al., 2014).

Little research focuses on gambling promotions during televised sport. A qualitative study provides insights into young Australian men’s views on these promotions, which they consider aggressive, unnecessary and unavoidable (Thomas, Lewis, McLeod, et al., 2012). Men describe feeling pressured to gamble to avoid isolation from peers, with betting odds embedded in peer discussions. A quantitative study of 131 Australian adolescents (12–17 years) reports that greater intention to sports bet once of legal age is associated with higher frequency of watching televised sports where gambling is promoted (Hing, Vitartas, Lamont, & Fink, 2014). This study also reports that 42.0% of adolescents could recall at least one gambling brand from watching televised sport, with the most recalled brand nominated by 26.0% of respondents. Another Australian study reports that three-quarters of 228 children (4–15 years) surveyed could correctly assign at least one sponsor to at least one sport or team (Pettigrew, Ferguson, & Rosenberg, 2012). Reflecting the lasting impacts of brand association, the children also had strong recall of previous sponsors and many children endorsed gambling brands not specifically associated with a team demonstrating transference from other advertising. A related survey was completed by 209 adults at sporting events with 63% concerned about gambling companies sponsoring sports (Pettigrew et al., 2013). In fact, these respondents were more concerned about sponsorship by gambling operators than by alcohol or fast food companies.