Australian men feel bombarded by gambling advertising

Australian men feel particularly targeted by the marketing strategies used by the gambling industry, a new Monash University study has revealed.

Male study participants said that it was almost impossible to be interested in professional sporting events without being “bombarded” by messages to “have a punt”.

Men also felt ‘under attack’’ by the volume of advertising at sporting events.

Meanwhile, female study participants were more aware of the promotion of a variety of gambling products.

Researchers of the qualitative study entitled “They are working every angle.” A qualitative study of Australian adults’ attitudes towards, and interactions with, gambling industry marketing strategies, spoke to 100 people with a range of gambling behaviours, in semi-structured, taped telephone interviews between November 2010 and June 2011.

The majority of interviewees were white Australians. Nearly two-thirds were male and the average age of interviewees was 38. Over a third had completed a University degree or postgraduate qualification and about two thirds had an average income of under AUD$100,000 per year.

Participants were asked three broad questions about gambling industry advertising strategies:

  • How does the gambling industry sell its products?
  • How prolific are advertisements about gambling in Victoria?
  • Do you think these advertisements have any influence on peoples gambling behaviour?

Three broad themes emerged from the interviews:

  • An awareness of the increase in gambling advertising and the saturation of advertising for certain types of gambling products
  • The role of marketing in normalising gambling
  • The impact of incentives on gambling behaviours.

Interviewees commented on the link between gambling promotion and Australian Football League (AFL) matches. Some stated that the relationships between gambling companies and sporting codes had created a situation in which gambling had become a natural part of professional sport.

Male and female interviewees both recognised that sports betting advertising was
overwhelmingly aimed at men and many said they often felt unable to “escape” or “avoid” gambling advertising.

Men over the age of 40 felt that gambling advertising affected their viewing pleasure of cricket. Men aged 25-35 felt that the amount of gambling advertising was sending a dangerous message to individuals about the “social acceptability” of gambling.

Meanwhile, men and women aged 30 to 50 were more aware and critical of the wide range of advertising tactics used by the gambling industry at matches.

Participants were particularly concerned with the use of familiar or respected celebrities who endorse gambling products as a profitable past time.

Female participants commented on how venue-based gambling was marketed as a fun, safe, glamorous, social place to enjoy your leisure time. The key message they took away from gambling advertising was that people could experience social benefits if they gambled.

Interestingly, older women, particularly those who visited pokie venues, saw incentives including “free meals and free drinks’’ as a clear benefit of playing the pokies.

Men under 25, from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and those classified as high risk/problem gamblers also spoke positively about the benefits of incentive schemes.

The findings presented in this study – which was funded by the Victorian Government - is part of a broader qualitative study that explores the experiences, attitudes and opinions of Australian gamblers.

More information about this study can be found in an International Gambling Studies 2011 journal article, which is available online here.