Jamie’s Friday Musings for February 4th, 2022

Responsible Gaming Strategy

Feb 4, 2022

Criticism of Responsible Gambling Prevention Messaging

Let’s jump straight to the point. Messaging aimed at reducing problem gambling and gambling harm is really, really hard.

This is why I’m frustrated when I see criticism of prevention campaigns. And I become doubly frustrated when the critics don’t bring a better solution to the table.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand and empathize with the critics (I used to be one after all), I’d just like to see more ideas for improvement and less complaining about the current state.

I’ve spent my entire career working in brand messaging and comms and I still struggle to come up with ideas for harm prevention that both my mind and gut feel will work.

So yeah, sending out a Tweet blasting the latest campaign isn’t really doing any of us any good.

Adding Depth to the Responsible Gambling Messaging

With that thought in mind, I better present a few ideas.

Yes, I am skeptical that “knowing your limits” or “setting a budget” will have a meaningful impact on reducing problem gambling, of course. While these and other phrases are indeed key building blocks of responsible gambling (more on that term later), I think we need to add more depth to these top-line messages that both educate consumers on the best practices as well as highlight the emotional and environmental factors that lead people out of the safe zone.

We need to add depth to “stick to your budget” by helping people actually establish one as step one. How much should be budgeted for gambling after all? (check out this calculator and let me know what you think)

Additionally, there is a massive opportunity to educate through stories of life events that we know to impact someone’s judgment not only with gambling but with other forms of escapism as well (alcohol, drugs, sex, work, etc).

I’ll continue to push ideas out into the world on this front and I hope you’ll join me.

Massive Sports Betting Ad Dollar Spends

With the “Big Game” just around the corner, brands will be spending mid to high-seven figures for their 30-second spots. This may sound like a huge number unless you are the CMO in the sports betting industry, where advertising dollars seem to be flying around like beer bottles at a Browns game after a questionable call on the field.

The fascinating thing is that everyone is very aware of the pitfalls of too much advertising—just sit in on any sports betting conference panel—and some brands are exiting, but the major spenders don’t want to be the first to blink. This hasn’t ended well anywhere else in the world…but maybe that “only in America” line will be true here. But bet on it at your peril.

That Dreaded “Responsible Gambling” Word

Few things have received more time and attention than the term “responsible gambling” or “responsible gaming”.

Far too often, the term is mistakenly used interchangeably with “problem gambling”. I believe this is at the root of 80% of the criticism…so let’s start using them to mean what they were intended for.

And on that front, please stop with the “What about responsible operating?” retort. That is absolutely a crucial piece of the puzzle and one that operators need to continue to devote more BUDGET and PRACTICES (and a little less talk) towards meeting their end of the bargain. There’s progress being made, but to use a baseball comparison we’re still in the top of the 1st inning of a seven-game series.

However, that responsibility is defined as one of the pillars of responsible gambling alongside governments and other stakeholders who also need to pick up the ball and join the game.

The view that responsible gambling somehow only focuses on the individual’s responsibility is factually incorrect.

Defining Responsible Gambling

Responsible gambling refers to policies and practices designed to prevent and reduce potential harms associated with gambling; these policies and practices often incorporate a diverse range of iinterventions designed to promote consumer protection, community/consumer awareness and education, and access to efficacious treatment. It is important to clarify and separate the principles of responsible gambling from those approaches to harm minimisation and rehabilitation that are directed toward assisting gamblers that already have problems. The treatment of gamblers who  already have developed gambling-related harm remains the domain of specialists working in public health programs, including counseling and other health services. The allocation of resources to meet these treatment demands should come from various funding agencies.

A Science-Based Framework for Responsible Gambling: The Reno Model

Have a great weekend!

Jamie combined his professional background as a brand strategist with his experience as a former problem gambler to create dyve. He is also host of The After Gambling Podcast.

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