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Dr. Mark Griffiths: Social Responsibility in Gambling, Marketing and Advertising

  1. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN GAMBLING, MARKETING AND ADVERTISING Dr Mark Griffiths Professor of Gambling Studies International Gaming Research Unit Psychology Division, Nottingham Trent University United Kingdom
  2. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN GAMBLING • Underlying objective of a socially responsible code of conduct should be to maximise opportunity and minimise harm • Operators need to develop a culture that is supported by socially responsible policies and procedures • Social responsibility is fundamental to the long-term development of the gaming industry 13/02/14 2
  3. • Most operators are now developing a culture that is supported by socially responsible policies and procedures • As Ray Bates has said, social responsible practices in gambling are “a necessity not a luxury” • Some gaming companies claim that social responsibility has underpinned their gaming practices for 60 years even when it wasn’t called that. 13/02/14 3
  5. RESPONSIBLE GAMING Research 13/02/14 Game design Informed player choice Player support 5
  6. Understand the risk of gambling Set a time limit for gambling 13/02/14 Gambling outcomes are not predictable Don't gamble when you are drunk Gamblers lose in the long run Don't borrow to finance gambling Set a budget for gambling Seek proactive help 6
  7. WHERE DOES RESPONSIBILITY LIE? Individual Characteristics Structural Characteristics Gambling Behaviour Situational Characteristics 13/02/14 7
  8. MAIN AREAS OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY • No misleading/irresponsible targeted advertising/promotion • Actively complying with relevant codes of conduct all • Giving players as much information to make informed choices • Having fair and well designed games to protect players • Having product advice that doesn’t encourage excessive play 13/02/14 8
  9. • Denying vulnerable minors) • Displaying information access to groups (e.g., of helpful • Providing sources of help for gambling problems • Ongoing staff training on all aspects of social responsibility • Having active support for social impact initiatives • Having a core commitment to social responsibility 13/02/14 9
  10. PERCEIVED CONCERNS AND ISSUES • Great deal of speculation over the role of marketing and advertising as a possible stimulus to increased gambling, and as a contributor to problem gambling • Various lobby groups claim advertising has played a role in the widespread cultural acceptance of gambling 13/02/14 10
  11. • These groups claim advertising tends to use glamorous images and beautiful people to sell gambling • Does advertising create unrealistic hopes of winning that may later trigger a gambling addiction? 13/02/14 11
  12. LOTTERY ADVERTISING: SOME EXAMPLES • 'Winning is easy' • 'It might as well be you' • 'Win a truckload of cash' • 'Play by your rules' • 'Spend for the rest of your life' • 'Win a million, the fewer numbers you choose, the easier it is to win' • 'It's easy to win' • '$600,000 giveaway simply by inserting card into the machine' • 'Wins are multiplying like bunnies’ 13/02/14 12
  13. • US states routinely promote their lotteries with get-rich-quick slogans that sometimes denigrate the values of hard work, initiative, responsibility, perseverance, optimism, investing for the future, and even education. • "All you need is a dollar and a dream" (New York) • "Work is nothing but heart attack-inducing drudgery" (Massachusetts) • "How to get from Washington Boulevard to Easy Street" (Illinois) • "His [Martin Luther King's] vision lives on. Honor the dream” (D.C. Lottery) 13/02/14 13
  14. THE INDUSTRY’S RESPONSE • “We are selling fantasies and dreams” • “Everyone excessive’ knows the claims are • “Big claims are made to catch people's attention” • “People don't really advertisements” believe • “Business advertising necessarily emphasise aspects of products” 13/02/14 these does not 'negative' 14
  15. ACADEMIC VIEWS ON GAMBLING ADVERTISING • Content analyses of gambling adverts have reported that gambling is portrayed as a normal, enjoyable form of entertainment involving fun and excitement (Monoghan et al, 2008; McMullan & Miller, 2008) • Large number of gambling adverts are misleading (Monoghan et al, 2008) • Furthermore, they are often centred on friends and social events (Korn, Hurson & Reynolds, 2004). 13/02/14 15
  16. • Media gambling exposure leads to positive attitudes towards gambling and the effects of media gambling exposure were stronger than the effects of counter advertising media exposure (Lee et al, 2008) • ‘Positive portraying’ of gambling is not per se harmful as long as consumers also perceive sufficient and accurate information on gambling-related risks (Planzer & Wardle, 2012) 13/02/14 16
  17. • A science-informed regulatory approach uses empirical data to examine the relationship between gambling advertising and disordered gambling (Planzer & Wardle, 2012). • However, demonstrating the negative effects of gambling are solely attributable to advertising is hard to demonstrate empirically • “There is no more difficult, complex, or controversial problem in marketing than measuring the influence of sales” (Bass, 1969) • “If demonstrating a link between advertising and sale is complex, demonstrating a link advertising and broader gambling behaviour is even more so” (Planzer & Wardle, 2012). • Advertising effects are not uniform and ‘maturity’ and ‘immaturity’ of the market will have an impact (e.g., adaptation) 13/02/14 17
  18. • The likelihood of large financial gain is often central theme (“It could be you”) with gambling also viewed as a way to escape day-to-day pressures. • A number of authors claim that gambling advertising plays an important role in “normalizing” gambling, increasing participation and contributing to problem development (Adams, 2004). • Dyall (2004) also claims that gambling advertising targets high-risk populations (e.g., ethnic minorities). 13/02/14 18
  19. • Research has found that there is a large public awareness of gambling advertising • Problem gamblers often mention advertising as a trigger to gambling (e.g., Amey, 2001; Grant & Kim, 2001; Abbott, 2001; Binde, 2009). • Similar findings have also been found among adolescent gamblers – one-third of disordered gamblers often or sometimes gambled after viewing a gambling ad (Derevensky et al, 2010) 13/02/14 19
  20. • Reviews (Griffiths, 2005; Planzer & Wardle, 2012) noted that almost all of the data on gambling advertising concerned attitudes in some way. • Very little of these data provide insight into the relationship between advertising and problem gambling. • Advertising is an environmental factor that has the power to shape attitudes and behaviours relating to gambling – but the strength is unclear (Planzer & Wardle, 2012) 13/02/14 20
  21. ADVERTISING CODE ADHERENCE • Do not promote individuals gambling to vulnerable • Do not appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture • Do not exploit cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck • Do not condone or feature gambling in a working environment • Do not exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of under-18s or other vulnerable individuals 13/02/14 21
  22. • Promote gambling in adult environments and media at appropriate times • Avoid promoting gambling in non-gambling areas • Focus on entertainment rather than gaming • Don’t feature anyone who is (or seems) under 25 years gambling or playing a significant role. • Avoid sending out promotional materials to self-excluders • Comply with all codes of conduct (Advertising Standards Authorities, Trade organization such as WLA) 13/02/14 22
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  30. EXAMPLE OF BEST PRACTICE (Loto-Quebec) • Disallows any advertising that is overly aggressive • Rejects concepts liable to incite the interest of children • Prohibits the use of spokespeople who are popular among youth • Prohibits placement of advertisements within media programs viewed mainly by minors • Highlights the odds of winning 13/02/14 30
  31. • TV commercials for new products devote 20% of their airtime to promoting gambling helpline and warnings about problem gambling. • Prohibits targeting of any particular group or community for product promotion • The Chinese community did not agree with making references to its customs in order to promote the game. • Out of respect for this community, the game was immediately suspended. 13/02/14 31
  32. BONUSES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY • Many promotions include welcome bonuses, initial deposit bonuses, retention bonuses, reactivation of account bonuses and VIP bonuses. • The issue here is to what extent the use of promotional ‘hooks’ to generate new custom or maintain repeat patronage can be regarded as a socially responsible strategy. 13/02/14 32
  33. • In gambling, there is a fine line between customer enhancement and customer exploitation, particularly when it comes to facilitating new clientele and repeat patronage. • The perception of what others think about a particular practice are sometimes given more weight than what it actually means in 13/02/14 practice. 33
  34. • Some academic writings on the use of bonus promotions in offline gambling environments but these are based on observational anecdotes rather than empirical research. • Bonuses are used to entice the consumer in several retail environments. • What makes them especially appealing in a gambling environment are the obvious similarities of the structural characteristics of such bonuses and gambling events in general risk, uncertainty, interval- ratio reinforcement etc. • Furthermore, the appeal is strengthened since gamblers feel they are ‘getting something for nothing’. 13/02/14 34
  35. GENERAL VS PROPORTIONAL BONUSES (Griffiths & Parke, 2003; Griffiths, 2010) • There is a distinction between two fundamentally different forms of bonuses – the ‘general bonus’ and the ‘proportional bonus’. • These different types of bonuses may have different implications in terms of social responsibility. • General bonuses are those offers that are provided irrespective of the type of player - for example, an occasional gambler is as equally entitled to the bonus as a ‘heavy’ gambler. • Proportional bonuses are those offers that depend on how long and/or frequently the player gambles with a particular gaming establishment. 13/02/14 35
  36. • This means that ‘heavy’ gamblers would receive disproportionately more bonuses than an irregular player. • Given that a significant proportion of the ‘heaviest’ gamblers - sometimes referred to as ‘VIP gamblers’ - may be problem gamblers, it raises questions whether rewarding people the more they spend is the most socially responsible strategy. 13/02/14 36
  37. • In relation to the use of promotional bonuses, two basic issues arise. • The first one is whether online gaming companies should offer bonuses. • They can be perceived as ideologically incompatible with being socially responsible. • The second is whether some types of bonuses are less socially responsible than others. 13/02/14 37
  38. • Absence of empirical evidence • Could be argued that general bonuses, which target potential adult online gamblers irrespective of play frequency and/or type, are acceptable within online gaming environments that have a good social responsibility infrastructure. • However, bonuses that reward the biggest spenders could be argued to be much less socially responsible. • This model is well accepted in most commercial environments (i.e. loyalty reward schemes) • However, gambling is a commercial activity that can result in problems for the heaviest gamblers. 13/02/14 38
  39. • Applying this to promotional bonuses would mean that some bonuses appear generally acceptable from a social responsibility perspective • e.g., $10 token, 100% welcome bonuses and some re-activation offers • Others may be less socially responsible and potentially exploitative (retention and VIP offers) • It may be the case that other socially responsible measures implemented by an online gaming company may help mitigate the potential exploitation of problem gamblers (e.g., use of PlayScan) 13/02/14 39
  40. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH (Planzer & Wardle, 2012) • Investigate exposure to advertising (quantity) • Investigate the content of advertising (quality) • Investigate the impact of gambling advertising population groups (problem gamblers, adolescents) on different • Investigate the role of counter advertising • Inform gambling-related research with the results from related fields (e.g., alcohol, tobacco) • Co-operation between researchers and between legal and empirical disciplines 13/02/14 regulators/co-operation 40
  41. CONCLUSIONS It is perfectly acceptable for gambling companies to market and advertise its products However, such promotion should be done in a socially responsible way In the long run, social responsibility is good for repeat business and long-term profits 13/02/14 41
  42. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING! 13/02/14 42