Gambling Adverts Can be Harmful, but Reduction Will Have Minor Effect -Responsible Gaming Foundation

December 27, 2022 | Advertising

MALTA (December 11, 2022) — Gambling adverts “most definitely” make it difficult for gambling addicts to quit, but reducing them will not have a major effect, the general manager of the Responsible Gaming Foundation (RGF), Kevin O’Neil, told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

In a court judgment on 28 November, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech called on the authorities to consider limiting gambling adverts as they are haunting gambling addicts to keep playing.

She pointed out how gambling adverts are making it difficult for people to overcome their addiction when they are exposed to these adverts in a place of comfort, and therefore, addicts would be inclined to return to this addiction.

The vulnerable, like any addict, should not be involuntarily subjected to temptations even in the protection of the home at a time when he or she is following TV shows and even the news, Frendo Dimech said.

The court also cited a study that was conducted on gambling advertising in 2020. The study showed that exposure to gambling adverts “can have an impact on attitudes towards the prevalence and acceptability of gambling advertising”. Also, the adverts may not immediately push a person to gamble, however, they may convince a person to gamble in the future.

The Malta Independent on Sunday got in contact with the Responsible Gaming Foundation (RGF) to get its comments on this.

O’Neil said that there is no denying that gambling advertising is a “major stumbling block” for addicts.

He said that the word “gambler” did not necessarily mean “problem gambler,” it also includes “casual gamblers”.

Casual gamblers are in full control of their time and money, which are “the two key control components necessary for gambling in a responsible manner”.

When talking about advertising he said that “any form of advertising has only one aim; to induce an action, be it to purchase an item, subscribe to a service, vote for a certain candidate or solicit a donation, for example. Advertising in itself is an integral part of a company’s business operation and no company can expect to do well if its promotional arm is not up to scratch.”

He said that adverts are there for the consumer to decide where they would like to bet to get the best value and most entertainment.

“It is also important to note that the Malta Gaming Authority’s Gaming Commercial Communications Regulations offer a very robust framework to ensure that any such communication is duly authorised and in line with the dedicated guidelines in place overseen by a competent Commercial Communications Committee tasked with ensuring that minors and vulnerable persons are adequately protected.”

Although he agreed that adverts can make it difficult for problem gamblers to quit, he could not see how “adverts can however induce someone to behave in a reckless manner, especially where such forms of advertising are explicitly regulated, as is the case in Malta, clearly defining what is acceptable advertising and what is not.”

Asked whether calls through the foundation’s support line have increased since the start of the World Cup, he said that there has been no particular increase.

“The assumption that there must be a correlation between major sporting events, which indeed typically generate an exponential increase in betting activity, and calls for support is somewhat fallacious.”

He said that for the most part most bettors will only be dipping their toes in sports betting for the major event and most will bet within their financial limits making it an enjoyable complement to the whole buzz such major tournaments generate.

However, he admitted that there might be people who might win once and be tempted to make this activity a frequent endeavour. “This is where the importance of awareness becomes all the more significant and the very reason why the Foundation invests considerably in perpetuating the importance of control and responsibility when gambling.”

The magistrate had also said: “The time is ripe to consider whether gambling ought to be afforded the same sensitive approach as alcohol and tobacco products.”

See the original article.

SOURCE: The Malta Independent.

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