People say that the way gambling is talked about and shown needs to change. The gambling companies claim that they are selling a leisure activity that is no different from any other. Gambling is advertised everywhere as a fun, low-risk activity that involves a good chance of winning money. The likelihood of losing money and the danger of addiction and harm is hidden. Gambling companies use language that blames those who experience gambling difficulties for being irresponsible.
There needs to be a move away from talking about ‘responsible gambling’ and focusing only on consumers being responsible. Instead, people want the discussion to be about responsible practices by gambling companies and responsible regulation by the government. If the addiction and harm gambling causes were shown and better understood, this would be how every talked about and viewed gambling.
People want gambling advertising to be controlled like tobacco or alcohol advertising. They want to know why gambling advertising is any different when it is a product that can cause significant harm.
Shift to responsible gambling companies
People want ‘responsible gambling’ slogans to be removed, as these put pressure on people to “be in control” of their gambling. This would help to reduce both self-stigma and public stigma associated with gambling.
The first thing is they need to take that onus off individuals. And there’s talk about safer gambling. I don’t want safer gambling, I want safe gambling.
And this comes back down to that industry narrative of putting all the onus upon the person who is addicted. You know, you play responsibly, you set these limits, you self-exclude. And what I needed was somebody to say, “Crikey, this isn’t okay.” You need to stop them. “What’s going on in your life? Why do you feel like this?” And then I might have found out.
They’re not going to change their business model, but we have to understand that we need to change the aggressive marketing. We need to understand a lot more about the products and how they’re designed and how they’re addictive. That insight will add into the fact that we’re now looking at it’s not just personal responsibility, it’s not just you to blame. That would start tackling stigma. It’s moving away from that whole personal responsibility.
Almost everyone wanted more controls on gambling advertising. Most people want gambling advertising to be completely banned. Or if it cannot be banned, they want much stronger restrictions. Many people believe that the advertising regulations that apply to products such as tobacco and alcohol should also be applied to gambling.
This is because of how advertising impacted their own gambling and their perceptions of how it may affect others. They are especially worried about the generations of children and young people who are growing up surrounded by gambling advertising.
I would like them to ease back on gambling adverts. In fact, I would love it if they were banned completely like there’s no smoking adverts anymore. Alcohol adverts are down to an absolute minimum. Before, during, and after football matches, it’s all about gambling, but it appears now at teatime with all the adverts for bingo sites. I’d love to see that. I’d love to see the logos on football shirts [stopped]. There’s nothing worse than kids running around with a football shirt on with Bet365 on the front.
In a broad sense, I just think it should be banned. Absolutely completely banned. There should be no advertising of gambling… I’m still baffled to this very day that I can walk into my local supermarket, and I can’t visually see any cigarettes, but then the scratch cards are on the side. It makes no sense. Who is sitting there making these rules that you know these addictions worse than this addiction? If you can’t see one, I don’t think you should be able to see any.
We don’t need to have it thrown down our throats. We don’t need to be exploited. Children don’t need to be exploited. They don’t need to see that it’s a norm, you know, to have gambling adverts, mum playing bingo in the middle of the afternoon, especially at a time when they know the kids are home from school. You know, there are adverts for gambling on all afternoon.
People say it is not enough to remove gambling advertising during live sport broadcast before the ‘watershed’ of 9pm. This is a voluntary arrangement by the gambling industry. Gambling companies promise not to place advertisements five minutes before the event begins and five minutes after it finishes – “whistle-to-whistle”.
This still leaves so much other gambling advertising on television during the day and at prime time, when children and families are watching. People want to see a complete removal of gambling advertising on television before 9pm. This would help to protect children and young people from being so exposed to gambling advertising.
I would like to see gambling advertisement, I’m somewhere between gambling advertisement being banned completely or if it isn’t going to be banned completely it certainly should be after the watershed. I don’t think there’s any need for gambling to be constantly advertised all day every day. So, if we said after nine o’clock at night. I don’t know. I’m somewhere between after a watershed or ban it completely.
People want to see a ban on gambling company sponsorship of football and other sports.
Sponsorship deals with football clubs mean that gambling company promotions are on players’ shirts and on moving banners around the grounds. These appear behind players and managers when they are interviewed at stadiums. They are shown on football highlight shows. This means children and young people are exposed to gambling through sport, even if advertising is not shown during a match on television.
Also, people want to see this form of marketing completely banned to stop sports becoming increasingly aligned with gambling.
There are far too many adverts on. Whether they’re on before nine o’clock, after nine o’clock, whatever channels they’re on, there’s too many of them. I think if they would have just been sensible and said, right, we’ll have the same amount of advertising as, you know, as food and drink and all the rest of it, but it’s bombarded… My concern is that youngsters as young as eight, nine and 10 following their team will see betting companies on the shirts. Although the logo shirts aren’t the same for the kids that they wear, they’re still seeing it. You see on the television; all you see around the parameter is betting adverts. So that needs to be nipped in the bud.
People describe how they had to put blocks in place to stop receiving gambling advertisements or promotions. This would not happen with other addictive products because there are regulations in place.
It’s relentless. It’s everywhere. You get the adverts all the time and I’ve got as many blocks in place as I physically can have in place. I’ve got bank blocks and email blocks and all sorts, but I still get adverts. I get the postcode lottery coming through my door, being forced in my face. I’ve got no choice of that coming through my door. That doesn’t fall under the remit of the gambling blocks that you can put in place. You have to contact them separately to say don’t send me these because I’m a compulsive gambler, which is what I’ve had to do. It shouldn’t have to be like that. You wouldn’t get a sample of vodka put through your door. You wouldn’t get a bag of heroin put through your door.
People want to see significant restrictions or the removal of direct forms of marketing. They did not think gambling companies should be allowed to keep encouraging people to do something harmful with offers and free bets.
Some people say that the gambling companies needs to stop cross-selling products. Some have said they are all right when doing one kind of gambling, like placing sports bets. But they are often encouraged by promotional offers to start using other products such as casinos, which leads to their gambling escalating.
Although VIP schemes have recently been reviewed and guidelines have been updated, people do not believe that these are sufficient to stop consumers from being targeted by gambling companies. Those who have been targeted and made a ‘VIP’ by gambling operators want to see the practice completely banned. Gambling is addictive so companies should not be allowed to incentivise consumers to gamble more and more.
But other things you know, they need, they need to ban VIP schemes or anything. If it’s not called VIP, but it is VIP, it needs to go. They are incredibly dangerous. I mentioned reverse withdrawals, which I believe are changing anyway but that kind of practice is unacceptable. Affordability checks, you know, how do you check that somebody can afford to do this stuff? That’s so, so important as well, so I’d say affordability checks, VIP stuff and treatment as well
Others mention that regulations need to get up to date with newer marketing strategies used by gambling operators via a range of social media channels, such as YouTube and streaming platforms.
Show gambling addiction and harm
People say that advertising needs to stop promoting the glamorous side of gambling and be transparent about the addiction and the harm that gambling can cause people. Many people comment that a short warning message at the end of gambling adverts is not enough to stop people from being harmed. They also want to see more signposting to tools and services that can support people. Some say gambling advertising should be restricted to information only.
People want to see more documentaries and other media programmes that show people with lived experience of gambling harms. This includes celebrities that highlight the reality of gambling to the general public.