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UK-based GambleAware has called for gambling advertisements to be accompanied by enhanced health warnings on the dangers of addiction.

The call follows the completion of GambleAware-commissioned research, which measured the effectiveness of existing safer gambling messages among more than 7,000 participants.

The findings prompted GambleAware to call for the removal of the current Betting and Gaming Council-led safer gambling campaign, titled ‘Take Time to Think’.

The charity said its research suggested the slogan “fails to land the jeopardy of gambling harms or signpost where people can get help.”

Instead, GambleAware recommends the industry adopt “more effective health warnings” which would better raise awareness of the potential dangers of gambling.

Three new warnings

Three new health warnings were tested during the research, all of which were found to be more effective than the Take Time to Think slogan.

The strapline “Gambling can be addictive,” for example, was considered effective by 46% of the research participants, compared to 35% for Take Time to Think.

“Gambling comes at a cost” was also considered more effective than the current slogan, with 22% of respondents saying it was impactful and memorable, compared to 12% for the existing strapline.

“Gambling can grip anyone” was also seen as an effective alternative in the research, while the slogans were considered to more effectively convey the implications of gambling harm beyond financial harms.

Further to the testing of new slogans, the research also pointed to the increased effectiveness of a clear and separate GambleAware health warning on 30-second TV ads, which were gound to be more than twice as effective than the Take Time to Think slogan at showing people where they can seek support.

Stakeholder commentary

“In the absence of strict gambling marketing restrictions, it is absolutely vital that we see warnings on gambling advertising that highlight the addictive nature of gambling, paired with clear, unambiguous signposting for people to access support if needed,” said Dr. Raffaello Rossi, a lecturer in marketing at Bristol University and co-author of the research.

“We need to see better regulation of gambling operators who are widely bombarding us with their ads.”

Sam Starsmore, who was live experience of gambling harm, added: “Gambling operators spend millions on advertising, but there isn’t nearly enough regulation and signposting to support services has to be improved. 

“Reflecting on my personal experiences, the safer gambling messages never had an impact in providing me with a platform or direction to seek the support I crucially needed. Change is needed and could help prevent so many people from more serious consequences further down the line.”

GambleAware’s chief communications officer, Alexia Clifford, concluded: “Gambling harms are a serious public health issue, and it is vital that people are aware of the risks associated. Today’s landmark study underscores the need to replace the industry-led slogan ‘Take Time To Think’ with more compelling health warnings.”

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