Dr. Mark Griffiths: Social Responsibility in Gambling, Marketing and Advertising
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN GAMBLING,
MARKETING AND ADVERTISING
Dr Mark Griffiths
Professor of Gambling Studies
International Gaming Research Unit
Psychology Division, Nottingham Trent University
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN GAMBLING
• Underlying objective of a socially
responsible code of conduct should
be to maximise opportunity and
• 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
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
practices for 60 years even when
it wasn’t called that.
the risk of
Set a time
when you are
lose in the
Set a budget
WHERE DOES RESPONSIBILITY LIE?
MAIN AREAS OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
• Actively complying with
relevant codes of conduct
information to make informed
• Having fair and well designed
games to protect players
• Having product advice that
doesn’t encourage excessive
PERCEIVED CONCERNS AND ISSUES
• Great deal of speculation
over the role of marketing
and advertising as a possible
• Various lobby groups claim
advertising has played a role
in the widespread cultural
acceptance of gambling
• These groups claim
advertising tends to
images and beautiful
hopes of winning
trigger a gambling
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’
• 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
• "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.
THE INDUSTRY’S RESPONSE
• “We are selling fantasies and dreams”
• “Big claims are made to catch people's
• “People don't really
aspects of products”
ACADEMIC VIEWS ON
• 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 &
• Media gambling exposure leads to
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 &
• 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)
• 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, increasing participation
development (Adams, 2004).
gambling advertising targets high-risk
populations (e.g., ethnic minorities).
• Research has found that there is a
large public awareness of gambling
• 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)
• 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 &
ADVERTISING CODE ADHERENCE
• Do not promote
• Do not appeal to under-18s, especially by
reflecting or being associated with youth
• Do not exploit cultural beliefs or traditions
about gambling or luck
• Do not condone or feature gambling in a
• Do not exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations,
credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge
of under-18s or other vulnerable individuals
• Promote gambling in adult environments
and media at appropriate times
• Avoid promoting gambling in non-gambling
• Focus on entertainment rather than gaming
• Don’t feature anyone who is (or seems)
under 25 years gambling or playing a
• Avoid sending out promotional materials to
(Advertising Standards Authorities, Trade
organization such as WLA)
EXAMPLE OF BEST PRACTICE
• Disallows any advertising that is overly
• Rejects concepts liable to incite the interest
• 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
• 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
• 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.
BONUSES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
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
maintain repeat patronage can
be regarded as a socially
• In gambling, there is a
and customer exploitation,
particularly when it comes
• The perception of what
others think about a
sometimes given more
• 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
similarities of the structural characteristics of
such bonuses and gambling events in general risk, uncertainty, interval- ratio reinforcement
• Furthermore, the appeal is strengthened since
gamblers feel they are ‘getting something for
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
• In relation to the use of
promotional bonuses, two basic
• The first one is whether online
gaming companies should offer
• 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.
• 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
• 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
• However, gambling is a commercial activity that can result in problems for
the heaviest gamblers.
• Applying this to promotional bonuses
would mean that some bonuses appear
generally acceptable from a social
• 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)
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)
• 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
It is perfectly acceptable for
market and advertise its
However, such promotion
should be done in a socially
In the long run, social
responsibility is good for
repeat business and long-term