A recent study by the University of Warwick has concluded that the gambling industry’s, “When the funs stops, stop” slogan, may not have any significant effect on gambling behaviour.
The experiment, conducted by the university’s psychology department, asked 506 Premier League football fans with a history of sports betting, to wager after viewing a series of adverts.
Some of the ads contained the “When the fun stops” message, while others did not. Surprisingly, those who were exposed to the warning actually bet more often than those who were not.
Chair of the Senet Group, Gillian Wilmost, commented that the campaign and slogan has “generated substantial awareness of the link between negative emotional states and problem gambling, giving young men an accessible phrase to challenge each other’s behaviour in a way that has now passed into popular culture.
“Discouraging all betting was never its purpose.” She added. “Instead it aims to get gamblers to pause and reflect, in much the same way as the Bet Regret messaging.”
In the original Guardian report, it is noted that the the difference between the number of bets placed by the sample groups was not statistically significant enough to conclusively indicate that the message is counterproductive.
We suggest that there is also a strong argument that the small size of the sample itself - only 506 people - was not statistically significant in itself.
Before any conclusions can truly be drawn, we would like to see the research repeated with a larger sample of sports fans and further separate samples of other gambling participants, be it casino, slots, bingo, racing or lottery.
The other problem with the campaign messaging is the suggestion that players should only stop when the fun stops, relying on those struggling to control their gambling habits to recognise when things are getting out of control.
Is it realistic to expect such self-awareness from those already victim to the loss of control being warned against? The thrill - and fun - of gambling can remain even when losing.
The slogan is presumptuous in how it promotes the expectation that gambling can only be enjoyable when you’re winning, despite the knowledge that odds are always stacked in favour of the house.
If gambling was only enjoyable when winning, the industry wouldn’t exist. But, then again, perhaps the solution is simply reducing the size of the word “fun”…
“Last year, we initiated a review of the campaign, informed by a substantial behavioural study, and the new creative will reflect a change to the relative size of the word fun in response to feedback.”
That’ll do the trick.
Phil has worked in the gambling industry for over four years and has written multiple articles for Online Bingo, EGR and iGaming Business. In previous roles, Phil devised and implemented strategies for various multi-national clients including eBay UK, Mothercare and Carphone Warehouse.
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