Working with colleagues from Monash University and the University of Melbourne, Senior Research Fellow Dr Samantha Thomas looked at the amount of marketing for sports betting products and services shown during Round 12 of the 2011 AFL Premiership Season. The researchers found an average of 58.5 episodes per match at live events, and 50.5 episodes per match during televised broadcasts.
Dr Thomas said the study raised important questions about the volume and saturation of sports betting advertising.
“Gambling advertising is no longer restricted to ‘commercial breaks’ or live odds announcements. One of the key findings of the study was the extent to which the advertising was embedded within the match,” Dr Thomas said.
“This included advertising on jumpers, pop up logos underneath match statistics on scoreboards, and signage in pre-match locker shots.”
In addition to the increasing number of ads shown during sporting events, Dr Thomas said marketers used a diverse – but often closely connected – range of channels and new technologies to reach sports fans, making it difficult to measure the full reach of marketing for sports betting services.
“With the rapid diversification of wagering products through mobile phone and internet technologies, sports betting is no longer confined to casinos, local pubs and racecourses,” Dr Thomas said.
“Similarly, advertisements for sports betting services have now moved well beyond a single billboard, and from the subtle to the overt.”
“In many cases, we’re seeing dynamic sports betting advertising filling spaces that would traditionally have been free of gambling advertising. It is becoming difficult for fans to avoid these advertisements.”
Despite the volume of sports betting marketing, Dr Thomas said there were only a very limited number of visible counter-framing messages to help raise awareness about the risks of gambling, or the availability of help for those people affected by it.
“Throughout the study, advertising and promotion for sports betting was overwhelmingly positive, highlighting fan loyalty, and the immediacy, fun and excitement of betting. There was little clearly visible or audible reference to gambling risks,” Dr Thomas said.
“It is important to note that this study does not assess the impact of marketing on gambling behaviour. While many people may engage in sports betting as a fun, enjoyable activity, it is very important that we start to examine whether or not sports betting advertising may be having a negative impact on some groups in our community, particularly young men and children.”