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Sportsbook and Casino Advertising: Mechanisms and Effects

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As gambling marketing becomes increasingly more complex, safety can only be achieved by understanding the effects of sportsbook and casino commercials.

In today’s article, we will analyse this type of ad, including an insight into its impact on players and its role in facilitating problem gambling behaviours.

Effects of betting ads on problem gamblers

Advertising targets problem players way more than casual ones, as proven scientifically

After analyzing several studies conducted between 2010 and 2018, we gathered the following conclusions:

  • Some of them found that individuals with problem gambling report increased gambling advertising exposure;
  • This could happen due to two reasons: firstly, individuals with problem gambling may be more attentive towards gambling adverts than regular players;
  • Secondly, they may be exposed to more gambling adverts than regular players due to the places where they spend their time, such as gambling platforms, and the algorithms of gambling companies that target them specifically;
  • The vulnerability of people with problem gambling is suggested by their likelihood to report that advertising triggers gambling-related thoughts, heightened intention to gamble, and increased risk-taking when gambling.

TV advertising

A 2021 study was conducted to evaluate the impact of TV iGaming advertising. The results showed that TV betting ads are the most snown among participants.

This may explain why individuals exposed to it associate positively with increased knowledge of distinct gambling forms and operators due to adverts they encounter.

TV advertising was also linked with a higher level of gambling content.

Due to the brand awareness featured in TV ads, its close link with increased knowledge and awareness impact is plausible.

Internet advertising

Within the same study, exposure to Internet advertising generated the highest rates of gambling involvement compared to all evaluated advertising types.

Internet advertising is different from other advertising types by allowing more interaction. For instance, players can click on website ads and related links to access both offers and gambling services.

This may explain why Internet advertising appeared to have a more substantial impact. 

Gambling advertising impact on young people

Young people represent a vulnerable group in gambling, which is why responsible tools are constantly updated to minimize their addiction risk.

A 2017 study on this matter was conducted on 4617 adolescents and young adults ages 13 to 25.

The experiment led to the following conclusions:

  • Individuals with greater gambling ad exposure were more likely than the rest to report gambling throughout their lives, in the past year, and current gambling weekly;
  • Gambling problems were also more frequent among individuals who were exposed to gambling adverts the most;
  • Age influenced the link between lifetime gambling and advert exposure, as well as between advert exposure and gambling in the past year;

A comparison was made between the participants exposed the most to gambling ads and those exposed the least, showing that age is a decisive factor. 

This is because the participants of legal age who have been most exposed to adverts were 2.4 more likely to admit to having a life-altering gambling problem than the younger ones.

At the same time, the participants over 18 years old were also 1.5 times more likely to admit to having gambled in the past 12 months.

In the online market, this can be prevented by imposing stricter gambling and sports betting ad rules. Measures that could prevent targeting young people on social media apps and search engines may be efficient in minimizing addiction risks among young people.

The Australian gambling promotion study

Conducted in 2022, an Australian study links exposure to online gambling ads with gambling behaviours as follows:

  • Most students that participated in this study (81%) had been previously exposed to at least one form of gambling advertising in the last month;
  • In most cases, the adverts were seen via TV (85%) and social media (46%) or at sporting events (40%);
  • Exposure to online gambling adverts, which include website pop-ups, in the last month was associated with gambling activities and problem gambling;
  • This was especially the case with ads marketing gambling promotions;
  • After exposure was changed, no other advertising types were associated with such behaviours.

Problematic mechanisms of gambling advertising

If controlled, gambling advertising would be significantly less harmful than it is now.

Here are the mechanisms you should be aware of:

  • Certain campaigns market promotions in an unrealistic manner that encourages excessive play;
  • Terms and conditions are often excluded from adverts or written extremely small to go unnoticed;
  • The advantages of casino play and sports betting, which are often marketed together, are exaggerated to suggest that you can win high amounts just by registering;
  • Some adverts are written in a manner that intentionally gives players the illusion of control.

Unbiased gambling promotion

As shown above, problem gamblers and younger people can be most affected by betting ads.

However, the large population of casual and occasional gamblers should not be overlooked, as it comprises millions worldwide. 

For such players, the most important step in gambling and betting is that choosing a reliable real money online casino or sportsbook. This can be achieved by checking the recommendations of unbiased auditors that feature provider lists on their websites.

While it might seem somewhat confusing at first, the process is quite simple:

  • Search for third-party companies that evaluate the platforms of gambling providers;
  • Check their reviews: a good auditor shouldn’t use promotional language but rather explain to the reader what the pros and cons of the platforms are;
  • See what the priorities of the company are. If they’re trustworthy, they should provide extensive information about the operators’ licenses, T&Cs, and policies, as well as make their own available and easy to find;
  • They should never recommend providers with less reliable licenses than UKGC or MGA without warning players about them.

Takeaway

Little is known about gambling advertising at present.

However, while additional studies must be conducted to clarify its mechanisms and impact, better limits must still be imposed to minimise its negative consequences.

Irrespective of jurisdiction, the results of addiction prevention measures and treatments would improve if vulnerable categories wouldn’t targeted online and if transparency were imposed through stricter regulations.


John Wayne did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in mental health and well-being.

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