A recent study has found that warning messages attached to gambling adverts have little or no effect on the volume or size of bets that people place.
The research was delivered by professors at the University of Warwick, who were keen to investigate the impact of ‘safe’ gambling slogans on the behaviour of bettors.
However, they concluded that the messages – such as ‘when the fun stops, stop’ that was founded by the gambling standards group Senet – have very little effect on the actions of the people they are designed to educate.
The study involved a group of 506 self-confessed football fans who also had a bet regularly. They were asked to place a bet after viewing an advert, some of which contained the warning message and others which did not.
The results were conclusive: those who had watched the adverts featuring the warning still bet more often than those that had not. Overall, the participants decided to bet on 41.3% of the trials in which the warning message was displayed, as opposed to 37.8% who had a flutter when no warning was shown.
The takeaway point? The responsible gambling message had no positive impact on betting behaviour.
Confirming his findings, one of the report’s authors Dr Lukasz Walasek said:
“The purpose of the ‘when the fun stops, stop’ warning labels is to encourage more responsible gambling behaviour. Yet there is hardly any evidence suggesting that such labels are effective.”
The group did however confirm that the difference was not statistically significant to an extent which proves that safe gambling messages are counterproductive.
However, the findings are stark in insinuating that the materials promoting responsible gambling simply aren’t working.
Responsible Gambling Message Needs to be Clearer
One of the reasons they identified was that the word ‘fun’ was printed in a larger font than the rest of the message, which kind of defeats the object in many ways.
In response, Gillian Wilmot, who is the chair of the Senet Group, said that the ‘when the fun stops, stop’ has generated ‘substantial awareness’ of the link between problem gambling and mental health issues, and had provided young men – the predominant target market – with a relatable phrase to challenge their own and their friends’ betting behaviour.
“Discouraging all betting was never its purpose. Instead it aims to get gamblers to pause and reflect, in much the same way as the Bet Regret messaging,” she said.
“Last year, we initiated a review of the campaign, informed by a substantial behavioural study, and the new creative will reflect a change to the relative size of the word fun in response to feedback.”
The Bet Regret campaign has also come in for criticism in some circles. The ‘self-blame’ concept could increase negative feelings and have a damaging psychological impact on sufferers, according to experts.
“I’m concerned that messages like this one, which depict a gambler being berated for his behaviour, are unlikely to encourage gamblers to speak about their problems with their families or to seek support,” said Rebecca Cassidy, a professor at Goldsmiths University.
These messages will be appearing much less on our screens soon anyway, with a blanket ban on gambling-orientated advertising during pre-watershed hours set to be a thing of the past during sport events.