New research has shown that sports betting brands appear to be highly embedded in Australian sporting community culture and are a normal part of social conversations, particularly surrounding NRL and AFL games.
Funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the study by Dr Ross Gordon of Macquarie University and Michael Chapman of the University of Wollongong investigated the marketing mechanisms sports betting agencies use to appeal to young adults who gamble on sport.
Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo says the study lifts the lid on the way sports betting and the marketing behind it influences the way Australians experience sport.
"The prominence of sports betting in our sporting culture has been propelled by persuasive and consistent marketing urging us to bet at every opportunity," he said.
The researchers conducted a content analysis of sports betting websites and live television broadcasts of sporting matches to identify the main themes of sports betting advertising.
Looking at five live Australian Football League (AFL) matches and five live National Rugby League (NRL) games in September 2013, they found
- AFL An average of 10 minutes 52 seconds of gambling advertising in each match, with an average of 93 single occasions where gambling advertising was displayed.
- NRL An average of 15 minutes 38 seconds of gambling advertising in each match, with an average of 225 single occasions where gambling advertising was displayed.
Mr Sardo says the study suggests approximately 14 per cent of the NRL screening time and 5 per cent of the AFL screening time showed gambling advertising and the Foundation is concerned about the influence this has on young men.
"We are particularly concerned about young men aged 18-25 years who are often the primary group targeted by these sports betting companies, who are also among the most at risk of developing gambling problems," he said.
Dr Gordon says gambling companies refer to the culture of the Australian sports community in their marketing to appeal to sporting fans.
"By using language associated with NRL and AFL games, and referencing the rituals and traditions of the game, sports betting brands are tapping into a sense of togetherness and belonging," he said.
Dr Gordon also interviewed small friendship groups in urban and rural Victoria to explore the conversations young adult gamblers were having before and during sporting matches.
"Our focus groups suggested that sports betting is part of the lifestyle of young adult participants. Participants described sports betting as a well established cultural and social norm within their friendship circles," he said.
"The study also suggested that sports betting marketing reinforces participants' awareness and engagement with sports betting brands".
The Foundation is working with sporting clubs across Victoria through its Gambling's not a game education program to separate gambling from sports and shifting the focus back to the 'love of the game' not the odds.
Brand community and sports betting in Australia was funded by the Foundation as an early career researcher grant in the fifth round of the Grants for Gambling Research Program.