Gambling advertising is promotion of lotteries, casinos, bookmakers, and other organizations and sites, which give an opportunity to make bets. In most cases advertising is conducted via TV or through sponsorship agreements with people or sporting events.
Even though gambling advertising is not so regulated like alcohol or tobacco advertising, most of the countries still have strict laws on how gambling services can be marketed. But if everything is rather clear with TV advertising, there are still many loopholes for operators.
For example, they regularly sponsor sports events or their coverage on TV. To get around laws, some poker platforms advertise free-to-play websites and often call themselves ‘poker schools’. Since September 2007 the UK has banned over 1,000 gambling operators because they failed to meet requirements of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. And in 2018 BBC found multiple links to gambling platforms on the football clubs websites.
While it is your choice to discover the best online casino operators recommended by reliable gambling experts and to make a few bets, you can’t select which TV commercials to watch. And considering that gambling advertisements make up 2,2% of all the ads that people saw on television in 2018, the question should be approached with all seriousness.
The New Zealand government has recently addressed the problem of banning gambling ads on TV. While advertising of medicines, alcohol, and tobacco is already a solved issue, the question about gambling remains. Should ads contain warning labels or be banned?
Gambling makes up a big part of the New Zealand culture but the ads we see on TV don’t promote the games. They confuse players and aim to trick them out of money taking a risky action hoping to win. So what are the risks and problems that casino advertising on TV may bring? Let’s discuss them through the prism of several examples.
Jackpot City and the hidden advertisement
You have probably heard about Jackpot City, a Malta-licensed online casino that has been advertising its .net free-to-play website on New Zealand television. The advertisement was dedicated to the great selection of games at Jackpot City online casino platform that can be played on PC or mobile phone. However, the aggressive campaign was immediately noticed by the government and was compared to a Trojan Horse, which aimed to trick players into visiting a .com real money casino website.
According to Spinoff, the real goal of Jackpot City was to confuse players, who would google ‘Jackpot City’ and be directed to the .com website version, a real-money platform.
Unfortunately, there is no law to prevent Jackpot City from promoting free-to-play sites in such an aggressive manner. Last October a New Zealand player contacted the NZ Advertising Standards Authority about the Jackpot City advertisement on TV because he genuinely believed that real-money gambling ads were against the law. However, the answer was that there was ‘no ground for complaints’.
Casumo advert banned after targeting problem gamblers
Casumo, a popular online casino was forced to withdraw an advertisement, which offered bonuses and free spins to people, who were googling ways to prevent themselves from gambling. According to the Advertising Standards Authority, Casumo is one of the three online gambling sites that had to pay $14 million in penalties for not following requirements on money-laundering prevention and protection of problem gamblers.
Should gambling advertising be prohibited?
According to the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, citizens have lost over $2,2 billion in gambling during the 2016-2017 years. The foundation also claims that around 2% of New Zealanders have problems with gambling. In addition, casinos use different psychological instruments to encourage people spending more time and money on their websites, targeting the most vulnerable categories of population: children and problem gamblers.
Based on all the evidence and predominance of flaws over positive aspects of TV advertising, it is obvious that these ads should be prohibited and tracked by the government.