Over the past 2 years, the gambling industry has changed dramatically, with responsible gambling being a subject we are all aware of and eager to encourage. From independent charities and gambling addiction groups to the bookies themselves, as a community we are all working together to make gambling great again.
This is why we are seeing huge sums of money invested in responsible gambling advertising campaigns, with the ‘When the Fun Stops, Stop’ campaign being a great example of this.
Created by the Senet Group, an independent body that promotes responsible gambling standards, the campaign was adopted by pretty much everyone, featured on all the big-name betting sites and used as a warning message to bettors. This was propelled by a rather aggressive television, radio, print and social media campaign, seeing the message ‘When the Fun Stops, Stop’ online, on bus stops; literally everywhere.
Still being dip-fed those powerful words, academics from the University of Warwick wanted to learn just how effective this campaign is in addressing issues with gambling.
But, according to the research, being presented with the slogan has little or no impact on us, with the university deeming Senet Group’s campaign rather ineffective.
Basing their findings on research conducted on 506 participants, they focused on individuals who regarded themselves as fans of Premier League football. These were also individuals that had some experience betting, not quite novices but occasional gamblers.
Asking them to place small bets, researchers from the university’s psychology department played some the slogan and others nothing. Comparing the results of each bet, they found little difference in betting behaviours, suggesting the ‘When the Fun Stops, Stop’ message to have no impact or ability to prevent problem gambling.
In fact, they found that a small number of participants that did see or hear the slogan actually bet more often than those that did not, indicating that the whole campaign is counterproductive.
One of the report’s authors, Dr Lukasz Walasek, said: “The purpose of the “When the fun stops, stop” warning labels is to encourage more responsible gambling behaviour. Yet there is hardly any evidence suggesting that such labels are effective.”
What The Senet Group has to say
Understandably, the Senet Group differ in opinion, saying that their slogan has huge benefits in promoting responsible gambling to the masses.
Gillian Wilmot, who chairs the Senet Group, said it had “generated substantial awareness of the link between negative emotional states and problem gambling, giving young men an accessible phrase to challenge each other’s behaviour in a way that has now passed into popular culture. Discouraging all betting was never its purpose. Instead it aims to get gamblers to pause and reflect, in much the same way as the Bet Regret messaging.”
Though believing its campaign to be revolutionary, they do agree that it could benefit from being tweaked slightly. It is very much a shared opinion that having the word ‘fun’ capitalised and the key signifier of the message could be doing more harm than good, immediately seeing bettors associate gambling with fun and freedom.
“Last year, we initiated a review of the campaign, informed by a substantial behavioural study, and the new creative will reflect a change to the relative size of the word fun in response to feedback” Wilmot confirmed.
What do you think, does hearing that slogan on tele or seeing it on a betting site remind you to gamble responsibly?
We could be seeing less of the slogan anyway
Though the effectiveness of the campaign continues to be under debate, it is likely that we will be seeing and hearing less of it anyway. This is due to the introduction of a voluntary ban on advertising during sporting events. Backed by betting brands such as Paddy Power, BetFred and William Hill, this ‘ban’ will see betting brands stop advertising on a "whistle-to-whistle" basis.
This means if a match is live on television before the watershed, the broadcast will not contain betting advertising of any sort.
This has been introduced to combat the rising number of younger bettors reporting issues with gambling. According to a recent report issued by The Gambling Commision, we have over 2 million people in the UK with gambling problems; 55,000 of which are under the age of 16. Without intervention like this, we run the risk of enhancing that number even more.
The industry expects that removing television adverts from betting sites before 9pm could lead to changes being made in other areas of the sport. Many believe pitch-side billboard advertising will be the next form of betting site promotion to be scrapped.
A Gambling Commission spokesperson said: "Options for enhancing the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising are currently under review.
"We would welcome any steps to address public concerns about gambling advertising.
"Last month we brought together senior leaders from over 100 gambling companies to look at how they can work together to make gambling fairer and safer, including considering the approach they take to advertising.
"We look forward to hearing about the industry's plans."
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