Marketer’s Perspective on Safer Gambling and Marketing



Staff member
May 3, 2008
A Co-Creation Workshop Led by the UKGC Reveals Marketer’s Perspective on Safer Gambling and Marketing

We are all well aware that the UK Gambling Commission has been heavily criticised for allowing operators to promote gambling as they did. In 2018, during the football World Cup, there were countless of complaints around the volume of gambling advertisement shown during the matches.

The number of ads reaching children was another issue. The public was attributing underage gambling to be a consequence of children’s constant exposure to gambling ads, and as a result, the UKGC had to challenge operators to put responsible gambling advertising first.

And there were some positive outcomes, with operators gathering and creating solutions such as the “whistle to whistle” ban, which does not allow ads during live-streamed sporting events. But the Commission is never fully satisfied. That’s why it had organized a co-creation workshop, trying to pick the brains of the marketing teams and learn all their struggles and try to find a solution on how to solve them.

The Objectives for the Co-Creation Workshop

The UK Gambling Commission explicitly explained that it wanted to hear the views on responsible gambling advertising of those responsible for creating the marketing campaigns. As stated, the UKGC’s Insight Engagement team and the marketers had an opportunity to share current practices and situation in the industry, learn about shared struggles and challenges and start taking the first long-awaited steps in collaboration on joint solutions.

Therefore, the UKGC organized the event intending to drive culture change and promote collaboration. The regulator wanted to facilitate gambling marketing experts to discuss opportunities and challenges related to advertising, brand and safer gambling strategies. But most importantly, the watchdog wanted to get everyone start looking at joint approaches to address research findings and create a shareable set of recommendations to improve marketing practices.

On that note, recommendations that were a result of this workshop were on several subjects: teams, onboarding, design process, compliance, evaluation of training, responsible gambling, innovation, team objectives and single customer view. The keyword in all these recommendations was compliance.

The conclusion was that compliance with the responsible gambling advertising rules should be implemented from the start. The marketing companies should employ and recruit only marketers who are experienced and would incorporate marketing compliance into the design process from the very beginning.

Therefore, team members should work in line with safer gambling strategies, and understand the compliance element in their roles. Owners of marketing agencies should consider specific training related to marketing guideline, gambling harms and compliance so that new and unexperienced marketers can also join the team but receive training on how to comply with the rules. The commercial and compliance evaluation should be at the top of the agenda. All departments in a marketing agency working on campaigns should be well aware of responsible marketing and compliance and should be held responsible for any failings to do that. In short, marketing owners and their teams should integrate marketing compliance with their marketing strategies at all times.

The Conclusion: a Customer-Centricity in Responsible Advertising

As the UKGC explains, a customer-centric approach towards advertising focuses on providing a positive customer experience. Therefore, successful socially responsible ads would balance responsible and commercial messages and understand the impact on the audience. That’s why celebrities and trending personalities are not a great idea for gambling ads due to their impact. This is where attendees discussed the challenges they were facing around building content that would not get the attention of players who might be experiencing harm. Authenticity, therefore, is crucial when delivering a responsible message, and attendees agreed. It can be done through messaging, voice and visuals to reflect the brand’s identity.

Mobile gambling was also discussed and attendees shared their thoughts on all the opportunities that existed within digital, such as digital disruption and personalization via in-app messaging. It was concluded that with careful approaches, the risk of children and vulnerable getting exposed to gambling ads can be minimised, but then marketers discussed how challenging that was with all the affiliates being involved and reaching to wider audiences. The solution was automated problems that help track where the ads actually appear.

The next steps, as the UK Gambling Commission stated would be a follow-up event next year, to check the outcomes of the current one, and see whether the recommendations and solutions were implemented correctly. The group worked together and created a set of recommendations for managing marketing teams, design process and evaluation.
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