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The receptivity of young people to gambling marketing strategies on social media platforms

Pitt, H, McCarthy, S, Rintoul, A & Thomas, S

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
April 2023


This study examined marketing strategies used by sports betting brands on social media, with a focus on their potential to appeal to young people.

Phase one of the study analysed social media posts from six sports betting brands on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in September 2020. Phase two incorporated an online panel survey of 770 young people (aged 16–24) that explored their recall of, and receptivity towards, sports betting advertising on social media platforms.

The researchers conclude that:

  • Policy responses should seek to limit young people’s exposure to gambling promotions on social media.
  • Current regulations are not effective at restricting strategies used in gambling marketing that may have specific appeal for young people.


Phase one – analysis of social media content from sports betting brands

  • Branding of social media posts was evident through three strategies: embedded logos, using brand colours, and providing links back to company websites.
  • The most common consumer engagement strategy was prompts to comment, like or tag people in posts.
  • All brands used emojis and hashtags in posts.
  • The most common marketing attention strategy was the use of celebrities in posts, followed by posts containing humour.
  • Most content was associated with odds for AFL, NRL, or specific horse races.
  • A quarter of posts contained a ‘responsible gambling’ message.

Phase two – online panel survey of 770 people aged 16–24

  • Two-thirds of participants recalled having ever seen an ad for sports betting.
  • 39 per cent recalled having seen ads for sports betting on social media. There was a link between age and having seen an ad on social media, and Facebook was where people most commonly saw ads.
  • One-in-five of all participants recalled seeing gambling marketing from social media accounts they followed. Among under-18s this was one-in-ten.
  • Participants thought the use of humour, celebrities, and deals and promotions, would be the most appealing marketing strategies for young people.
  • Four-in-five participants felt sports betting marketing on social media may influence receptivity to gambling among young people. Participants suggested that ads made sports betting seem like a quick way to make money, were aligned with sport, and were fun and exciting.
  • Participants stated that young people may be more receptive to gambling because marketing created an exaggerated perception that gambling had high participation rates, and was normalised.


Pitt, H, McCarthy, S, Rintoul, A & Thomas, S 2023, The receptivity of young people to gambling marketing strategies on social media platforms, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne.

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