It’s a great time to be a researcher with a focus on gaming and gambling. While still vastly underfunded in comparison to other addiction or behavioral health fields, the past few years must feel like being in the audience for Oprah’s Favorite Things for researchers who have spent the past several decades feeling like they are in the middle of the desert with no oasis in sight. “You get funding. And YOU get funding. AND YOU GET FUNDING!”
Yes, there are many new research projects underway as we continue to carve away at this often mysterious and complex issue. Whether they are focused on the right questions is a discussion that would surely bring out interesting and valuable nuggets.
In this case, I’m switching shoes and assuming the role of a top executive of an industry-leading operator. If I were in their position, what research would I want to see? This is what would be at the top of my list.
“Are We the Right Messenger for Responsible Gambling?”
To have a successful campaign, the right message needs to be delivered to the right person (target audience) at the right time in the right location by the right messenger.
So, before we even get into debate or discussion about what the message should be or how and where it should be delivered, I’d want to know if we were the right messenger for the task at hand. Are we truly the best messenger? Will the target audience trust and believe what we are saying? I’d definitely have my doubts and would want to see research to confirm that we are indeed the most qualified.
This isn’t to say that I don’t believe we have a role to play in responsible gambling messaging. We do.
But clarifying what that role would allow us to focus on the areas we can best meet the need, maximizing our contribution. This would also show us the areas where we could outsource to groups or individuals who might be more appropriate fits for delivering the message. This insight would be mutually beneficial to all involved.
Absent current research (if it does exist, please let me know), we are forced to use instincts and observations to answer these questions. In this case, my hypothesis would be that the target audience does not see gaming operators as the best messenger for responsible gambling messaging.
This isn’t a knock on the talented people working within RG departments, but rather an acknowledgment of the limitation they face. Consumers may be more likely to find RG messaging coming from a third party as more authentic and believable.
The Big Takeaway
At the moment, I suspect there is too much ambiguity around the role and responsibility operators have in delivering RG content. This is hindering progress and results in worse outcomes for all involved.
Until we gain clarity around the roles and responsibilities, along with establishing key performance indicators to measure success, the feeling of being “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” which has been seen around the world will only continue to grow within gaming companies.
Clarity can begin to resolve this and discovering whether gaming companies should be the primary messenger for RG campaigns would be a great place to start eliminating the fog.