Debate: Has GambleAware hit the target with its new football-related campaign?

GambleAware has recently launched a new advert targeting problem gamblers in the UK (you can watch the embedded advert below).


The charity has also commissioned Regulus Partners to produce data on how much the UK gambling industry spends on marketing. According to the research, marketing spend has gone up by 56% since 2014, hitting £1.5bn ($1.91bn) in 2017.

But are these figures something the sector needs to worry about – and has GambleAware hit the target with its new football-related advert? The Gambling Insider editorial team converses on the issue.

YES - Nathan Joyes

GambleAware’s latest advert is cleverly produced, including people from all walks of life who enjoy the beautiful game. Yet gambling is potentially taking that enjoyment away from them. Their love for the sport has been replaced with betting and football appears to take a back seat.

The idea of the ball going missing and being confiscated reflects exactly that. This is because they are now looking at a football match as a betting opportunity, rather than for the enjoyment once shared.

The control is with the bookmakers, which is why the people are drawn to the betting shop at the end of the advert. The bombardment of advertising seems to have finally taken its toll and GambleAware is attempting to address this.

Regulus Partners estimates the Great British gambling industry spent £1.5bn on advertising and marketing in 2017 alone. Of this, £149m was spent on social media advertising, a 53% increase on 2014. Television advertising spend has also increased to £234m, up 15% from 2014.

This is why Sky is implementing advertisement restrictions for the next Premier League campaign. With up to four gambling adverts allowed per commercial break at the moment, it has almost become too much. The influence it can have may be detrimental. It isn’t just about preventing people betting when they are angry anymore; it’s about tackling the sheer volume of advertising forced upon people within the UK.

The #CanWeHaveOurBallBack campaign has been introduced to engage with potential problem gamblers and make more people aware of the effects of gambling irresponsibly, which I think is key. There needs to be more of a balance, rather than a heavy swing in favour of promotional offers and odds from bookmakers.

I respect not all people will be influenced by the advertising; but it appears impossible to escape gambling, especially across social channels.

NO - Tim Poole

The advert

GambleAware has a job to do and no one can doubt the nobility of its cause. It’s how it goes about achieving results that needs to be scrutinised – much as gambling operators are so heavily scrutinised by regulators.

Will GambleAware’s new advert make its mark? Is its message strong or clear enough? Have the millions of sports bettors who love their weekend wagers really lost their ball?

What’s interesting right now is the contrasting approach across the Atlantic, where so many gaming analysts, industry professionals and excited new customers are emphasising how much fun a simple sports wager can add to the sporting experience. It’s a form of entertainment.

The data

The headline figures certainly make for interesting reading from a B2B perspective. If anything, they almost underplay television advertising and sponsorship – much-maligned practices in recent months – suggesting "just 15% of total gambling marketing spend" is aimed at the former and a far smaller percentage on the latter.

The 19% aimed towards affiliates is certainly good news for the many sites out there, while the £149m (around half that) spent on social media is an intriguing sum considering the amount of exposure which can be gained by using social channels effectively for free.

But do these figures really send out a message about the state of gambling in the UK? Is the fact 80% of marketing spend is now online really a groundbreaking reveal in a digital-first world?

The big drawback is: there is no reference point. How much has betting revenue risen as a result of the advertising? How much of this is the result of increased spend on ensuring marketing compliance?

This data would be far more useful if it was measured against how much other industries spend on digital marketing. One suspects it is merely a drop in the ocean compared to the budget of an Amazon or a Facebook.

See what you think of GambleAware's advert in the video below:

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