This is probably going to go down as one of our more controversial posts… but please bear with us! There's a reason behind all this. Having scoured the internet in search of some of the best methods on keeping gambling addiction at bay, most of our research turned out methods that are either already well-established (rehab, warning posters, helplines etc.) or extreme anti-gambling propaganda — you know, the posters you see on those vans parked outside your local Betfred that tell you gambling is evil and you could lose your house if you put a single pound in a slot machine.
While a small majority would agree with this (and there are gamblers who do lose their homes after accruing so much debt), problem gambling rarely goes that far and such methods are, actually, pretty useless. No one takes them seriously. So we asked the question: could the iGambling industry do more to help prevent problem gambling… but in a way that's not patronizing or preachy? Our results have turned out some interesting material.
You may recall that a couple of years ago an odd little advert appeared on the telly showing a man in a betting shop losing some money at a slot machine. After briefly expressing his frustration, he draws out a tenner from his pocket and is about to wager it until his eyes meet those of his fellow betters and they start singing an altered version Ram Jam's Black Betty — “Bad Betty”.
The whole point of the advert is to demonstrate that the decision to bet after it stops being fun is a bad one. After all, as the advert claims, “don't bet more than you can afford, that's a Bad Betty!” The point being that this is the road to gambling addiction and that is something all gamblers (whether online or in real life) should be aware of.
This advert is extremely refreshing and memorable. The use of the song sticks in the viewer's minds and helps them remember the power of restraint — a far cry better than demoralizing gambling and those who practice it. After all, we don't see anti-gamblers protesting the lottery, do we?
This advert's was made by the Senet Group, basically the people in charge of the ‘Gamble Aware' posters you see everywhere, and this method of effective advertisement has proven to work. More than a year after the advert has aired on television, over 70% of people who saw it still remember it and the message it put across.
While there are some very sticky regulations involving the advertisement of gambling, we believe that more TV adverts like the one made by Senet should be made by bodies like the UK Gambling Commission to promote healthy gambling practices.
After all, when those who took part in the survey by Senet, they claimed to have stopped gambling when it became less fun and when they realise they couldn't afford it. They also felt the need to step in when their friends and family showed signs of going too far with their money.
So it's proven to work! The message is going through to the public and while methods to treat problem gambling when it arises should be kept in place, a prevention is far better than a cure.
In answer to the question we've posed, yes! The iGambling industry could do more than it's currently doing to prevent problem gambling. As well as plastering warning signs all over the place, it could exploit effective visuals and audio cues to take root in players' memories and make them more socially responsible.
It might be tricky — aside from making the actual advert the company will first have to make sure they're not violating any laws. But we firmly believe it can be done and may 2017 be the year that it takes off.