The World Cup and Gambling – A Cause for Concern?



The Facts and Figures – How Many Ads have Been Shown?

In an earlier post, we talked about how gambling firms have struggled to engage their customers through social media during the Russia World Cup.

In fact, sponsorship analytics firm Hookit revealed that the world’s leading gambling operators did not appear anywhere on their list of the most engaging brands, while companies such as Nike, Coca Cola and Qatar Airways dominated the space.

It has since been revealed that almost every ITV-screen World Cup commercial break has contained gambling advertisements, however, with some even including two from competing brands (we’ll have a little more on this later).

This suggests that market leading firms such as Skybet, BetVictor and Paddy Power have looked to invest more in direct television advertising at the expense of social and digital channels, in the belief that customers are increasingly likely to respond to messaging by placing a wager rather than interacting further with the brand online.

With Brits anticipated to have wagered an estimated £2.5 billion during the World Cup, it may be argued that this approach is translating into positive results for operators. But is this really the case, and does it have the potential to cause wider issues within the marketplace?

Should we be Concerned About the Prominence of Ads?

As we said earlier, this tournament saw the number of gambling commercials peak during ITV’s coverage, with breaks often featuring to competing messages from rival brands.

This is arguably why some operators have expressed concerns about the rising number of sponsored ads, as they face the increasing prospect of attempting to share their message in a saturated market.

In addition to potentially impacting negatively on their market share, it could also create a sense of cynicism and indifference among consumers who are exposed to a huge number of adverts on a daily basis.

There are also regulatory concerns about the number of adverts carried during earlier games, with reports suggesting that a growing number of children may have been exposed to gambling messaging.

In total, around 17% of all World Cup ad breaks have been focused on promoted sports betting and casino operators, with many of these inadvertently targeting children well before the traditional, 9pm watershed.

This type of exposure will be causing considerable concern for the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), particularly given that the protection of vulnerable gamblers is one of the group’s primary strategic objective through 2021.

The organisation also hopes to improve the reputation of the online gambling industry during this time, and it’s likely that the introduction of more stringent advertising regulations will play a pivotal role in this in the near-term.
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