How Gambling Ads Influence Problem Gambling
No matter how it is painted, gambling advertisements not only encourage excessive consumption habits, but it also has an effect on what is considered normal in today’s society; this unfortunately, is why gambling advertisements is deemed problematic, especially when left unchecked.
To reiterate once more, a fact that has been pointed out quite a number of times through research; gambling is exactly like other addictive behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol, sex and eating. The brain releases dopamine when an addict performs the activity they are addicted to, and most often than not, the person is not capable of logically making a decision to stop.
The fact that gambling ads can actively have an impact on individuals, not capable of making the decision to quit, is why the need to promote responsible ads is crucial.
The Objective of Gambling Advertisements?
The primary goal of gambling ads is to get people to gamble and to accept it as a normal and socially acceptable activity. There is serious competition in the gambling industry in Nigeria today, Bet9ja, BetKing, 1XBet, Sporty Bet etc. are spending millions of naira on advertisements, aimed at getting people to gamble more, or to start gambling.
These ads glamorize gambling and make life changing winnings; seem easy and achievable. Africa is a football loving continent, so you find most sports betting ads feature revered football icons, telling the fans and audience that it’s cool to bet on your passion for the game; that the more you bet, the better your chance of winning life changing prizes.
The influence these ads wield, is well understood by promoters and most times exploited.
Who can Gambling Ads Influence?
No doubt, gambling ads are a trigger to gamble, which can be problematic for those in recovery from gambling addiction, or just adults who are vulnerable and run the risk of getting addicted to gambling.
Also, children/teens are all affected by these ads, which are all over social media, being promoted by comedians, influencers, music and sports icons etc. All you need to do is show interest in a sports/game online and you are targeted with ads about sports betting with tempting bonus in tow.
Gambling ads have normalized the activity in our society that children, are now exposed to it at a very young age. These children then grow up thinking that gambling is a harmless activity, and research has already shown that the earlier in life a person starts gambling, the higher the possibility of them developing problematic relationship, with the activity.
Would Ensuring Responsible Advertisement, Make a Difference?
Its World Cup season again and advertising activity is bound to increase. In a competitive market such as Nigeria, we know smaller brands need to be heard, above the noise being made by their competition, some of which have made a name and have multi-million-naira marketing budgets, but that should not be enough, not to balance “encouraging customer engagement and promoting responsible gambling” in advertisements.
So yes, ensuring that gambling ads are responsibly done, might not be ‘the be-all solution’ to problem gambling, but it would be a good start.
The Reality With Gambling
No matter the claims or suggestions put out in some of these ads, the fact is that engaging in gambling activities, is not a walk in the park, with no consequences, gambling addiction is real and the harm inherent in it, affects not just the individuals, but their families and businesses.
Some operators might say, if our activity is not illegal, why should we not market our products when and how we deem fit? Well, the answer is NO, you may not, for the reasons that, it is still illegal for persons under the age of 18 to participate in gambling; so, your ads need to be targeted and mindful of this fact. This is the same reason alcohol ads is regulated; they both require you to be a certain age to consume it; however, it is evident that excessive consumption, can be dangerous, and in some cases fatal, hence why alcohol products, carry warnings on it.
Secondly, it has been established that gambling is an activity that can be addictive, and hazardous like cigarette, which is why cigarette manufacturing companies are required to make smoking ads less appealing, even though it is not an illegal activity. Rothmans cigarette ad, literary states “smoking kills, quit now”; so, shouldn’t same logic be applied to gambling product and its marketing, especially sports bet, in Nigeria?
Gambling Advertisement in Nigeria
The problem lies with the advertising “hooks” used most times in these ads. Here, you open your phone, laptop, TV, or pass billboards, Brt buses etc. you will encounter different advertisements on different gambling products; words like “you stake, you watch, you win; because you belong to the winning team”, “every single payout was a hit”, etc. which ultimately, create a can’t lose impression, in people’s mind and can encourage excessive gambling
Almost every skit maker, now advertises gambling products, and it is portrayed in a way that insinuates your next big thing starts with placing a bet with the company they are advertising for. There was one ad done by a renowned female actress that was absolutely irresponsible, in both her personal actions in the ad and the message she was selling.
Even though, it is not everyone who watches a gambling advert that becomes addicted to the activity; but for that small percentage of individuals that run the risk of being addicted, especially children and the vulnerable persons; we should do better.
There are no physical side effects to gambling, as with alcohol or drug addiction. The first sign to an outsider that a person is suffering from a gambling addiction, might be the loss of a home, relationship (s), involvement in a gambling related crime, or even suicide.
So let gambling marketing in the country, be done in a way and manner that will not lead consumers to financial, social or emotional harm.
Gambling is not like everyday activity that generates revenue for the government, it has the capacity to turn into an epidemic and thus regulator (s) should be intentional and strict about promoting and enforcing socially responsible advertisement and not just ‘copy & paste’ to fulfill all righteousness.
Will the removal or reduction of gambling ads in the country, solve the problem of addiction? Probably No, many people will still gamble regardless of whether or not they are exposed to ads; however, the curbing of the way and manner gambling ads run, will help protect those who are vulnerable, including children and those in recovery from gambling addiction.
The Advertising Regulatory Council (AGC) and the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) should come together and come up with the kind of national guardrails that will dictate the way, gambling operators advertise to the public.
There should be rules specifically for advertising of gambling products, and what these gambling ads can claim or say etc., in order to better protect society.
For the operators, it is better to have a healthy player that plays occasionally, than to have players who plays frequently but burns out within a short period.
Believe it or not, unless something is done urgently, to curb the influx of irresponsible advertisements, promoting sports betting and other forms of gambling, all over the place, especially on social media; without any care on how it impacts life, especially that of children and the vulnerable persons, in this country; gambling addiction and all that it entails, will certainly be the next national crisis.