Betting operators are using direct marketing channels, like SMS, to advertise inducements to regular sports and racing bettors – predominantly young men – that effectively encourage them to gamble more frequently and with larger amounts of money, thereby increasing their risk of harm.
These are the findings of two new studies conducted by CQUniversity and presented in Geelong today at the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s Gambling Harm Conference 2018: Taking action for change.
Foundation CEO Louise Glanville said that to mitigate harm from wagering, it was important to understand the complex interplay between wagering ads, inducements and behaviours.
“While the research participants believed inducements helped minimise their losses, in practice, betting frequency and expenditure increased in response to marketing,” she said.
The innovative research, which comprised ‘real-time’ surveys, video-game technology and lab-based physiological testing, found that:
- prolific push marketing for bonus bets and stake-back offers appeal most to bettors who are vulnerable to gambling harm
- inducements with the most influence on betting behaviour are cash rebate and reduced risk offers, which refund or match part or all of a bet, under certain conditions, via cash, bonus bets, deposits, or reward points
- wagering ads and inducements lower bettors’ perception of risk and increase their betting spend
- ads carrying inducements bring about physical reactions in vulnerable adults – changes in heart rate and eye movement
- inducements may pay for themselves through increased gambling spends
- inducement information in ads overrides attention to responsible gambling messages.
While some research participants had previously sought out betting advertising, they viewed many ads incidentally through frequent, intense and unsolicited direct texts and emails (push marketing), as well as on television, websites and apps.
“Countering the normalisation of sports betting among young men is a priority for the Foundation,” Ms Glanville said.
“One of the most useful take-outs from this research is the importance of reading the ‘fine print’ of any offers made by wagering companies, rather than relying on promotional blurbs.
“These findings will help inform enhancements to our social marketing and gambling harm prevention programs for this at-risk group.”
Read the full research reports, Effects of wagering marketing on vulnerable adults and Direct messages received from wagering operators.
For more information about the Foundation’s Gambling Harm Conference, visit gamblingharmconference.com.au.