‘Responsible Gambling Week’ (RGW) started on October 12th. It is all about helping people stay safe when gambling (nothing wrong with that).
However, its themes are all about the person (customer) and helping them with no mention of how the gambling industry designs, markets and delivers its products. This means there is no examination or reflection on these aspects and how they may contribute to gambling harm.
The following is one example of how the gambling industry has become a potential problem for UK society; specifically children and young adults. On October 14th & 15th (part of RGW) the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’ (MOTD) featured a number of games including Burnley versus West Ham. The highlights for this game lasted seven minutes 26 seconds (446 seconds). For 154 seconds (35% of the broadcast) a gambling company name featured prominently on the TV screen. The brands included Dafabet, Betway, Bet365, Tempobet, 138.com and Ladbrokes. Please consider the following quote:
“Match of the Day is a popular show which attracts more than 4 million viewers on Saturday night (when it is shown after the watershed) and between 2 and 3 million on Sunday morning when it is repeated (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board 2017, McRae 2013).3 The repeat normally goes out at around 7am on Sunday morning – a time when children’s programming features heavily in the schedules.” (see: https://osf.io/gprkv/?action=download)
There might be figures out there, but this author didn’t find them, which outline how many of MOTD’s viewers are under 18, the legal age for betting on football in the UK.
This quote comes from a very detailed academic paper, which is available for free on the url provided. The use of one game (Burnley v West Ham) is only a ‘snippet’ in comparison to this research work, but it does confirm the worst fears outlined in the academic paper.
The two extreme views on this topic are:
- This advertising has no effect on viewers under 18 years of age
- This advertising is a form of ‘grooming’ for children and young adults to gamble
What do you think? Is it something society should be concerned about or is it just a bit of fun? The Department for Culture Media and Sport are considering gambling advertising at present. Their conclusions are awaited with interest.
In the particular case of RGW is it responsible or irresponsible of gambling companies or for that matter phenomenally rich Premier League clubs to create an environment where 35% of the highlights of a football game, with a significant audience under 18 years of age, features so many gambling brands?
As always, it is important to remember that ‘Justice for Punters’ is not anti-gambling, but it is, in this case, anti irresponsible marketing and PR weeks that do not address the mixed causes of gambling harm.