Lately, there’s been a lot of fuss about gambling marketing and ads in the UK. This has prompted various organizations to pay more attention to the matter.
The latest issues of casino commercials and online ads have also attracted the attention of Northumbria University. Their students have conducted research on social media ads of casinos and their affiliate partners.
Turns out, only 1.6% of ads include any information related to responsible gambling.
The remaining 98.4% simply ignore the sensitive social problem and make no mention of safe gambling. This can be understood from a business perspective.
However, advertisement regulators and other official bodies have been punishing such behaviour lately. From this data alone, it would seem that casinos simply don’t care about the well-being of their customers and gamblers.
The Social Media Research
The study explored the most popular gambling operators in the UK. To be exact, 40 Twitter accounts of the most profitable companies were the focus here.
Other social media pages such as those on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram were not analysed. This is important, as each platform has its own rules which affect the communication strategies.
Regardless of that, only one in roughly 62 ads promoted responsible gambling. Most of them were posted by the casino brands themselves. The accounts of their affiliate companies almost didn’t mention this at all.
Why Does It Matter?
In short, regulators see this as a harmful way of communicating with the customer. That’s due to problem gambling and risks that spontaneous habits of playing casino games might pose.
By reminding to play safe and stop when the fun stops, casinos can decrease the number of problem gamblers. If not directly, this can at least be done by raising awareness within all the circles of society. This includes both gamblers and non-gamblers too.
On the other hand, ignoring these issues doesn’t help and can even harm players who are already at risk. That’s why socially responsible ads are such a big deal.
Unlimited Access for Everyone
Another issue with social media marketing on gambling is that everyone can reach it at any time. This includes minors who can get direct access to casino promotions, despite restrictions to advertise this form of entertainment for children.
This poses another threat to Twitter accounts of casinos and their partners. Knowing how strict the watchdogs have been lately to the offenders, this news will once more negatively impact the industry and particular brands.
Is There an Excuse?
How can we explain such behaviour of the admins or writers responsible for the online campaigns? Are they doing it on purpose? Or do they not know the implications of the fact that they omit safe gambling promotion?
Indeed, they know very well what’s going on. However, we think there are two reasons why they might be reluctant in this case:
- Safe gambling promotion might reduce their income
- Twitter posts only allow that many characters
First of all, casinos are businesses. From this perspective, safe gambling isn’t in their interests. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they should ignore it as they do. Yet, it might explain why some of them choose this strategy.
On the other hand, Twitter only allows 280 characters per tweet. You'd think the writers might be reluctant to promote safe behaviour because they might have to skip other important information instead.
However, this is not an excuse either. They could make their texts more concise to fit in everything. Or, they could use visual elements to remind players to be careful too.
Besides, most tweets don't even hit the limit anyway, according to TechCrunch: https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/30/twitters-doubling-of-character-count-from-140-to-280-had-little-impact-on-length-of-tweets/
What Could Be Done?
All casino companies and affiliates, whether they’re popular or not, could include the reminders to gamble responsibly. In fact, they should be doing that as it is described by official regulation.
Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising states:
“It is good practice to include social responsibility messaging in all forms of gambling where it is practicable to do so, however, it is a requirement of the Industry Code that messaging should appear on all broadcast media.”
Not only that, using these recommendations would certainly not harm the business. While it may result in a small decrease in cash flow, it’s a financially lucrative practice in the long run.
With so much attention paid to the marketing practices these days, working in compliance with the regulators would boost the company’s standing. Players would trust the brand more and come to play there more often as opposed to socially ignorant operators.
It should also be possible to make casino-related social media accounts invisible to underage internet users. This is a more difficult matter though, as such censorship could impact the brand’s overall reach.
TL;DR – There’s no excuse for omitting information that could benefit the users, especially those at risk. It should soon become the only acceptable online marketing strategy too.