A new nationwide poll has revealed 63% of Australians aged 18 to 64 believe advertising by sports betting agencies increases problem gambling, with one in 10 decrying this type of advertising as more harmful than both alcohol and tobacco equivalents.
The results, revealed in a new survey series, Crossman Insights, initiated by Sydney-based public relations consultancy Crossman Communications using the Newspoll Online Omnibus, found that over a third of respondents (36%) want to ban sports betting agencies from sponsoring sporting teams or events. Even more Australians, four in ten (42%), believe that giving odds during live sports coverage should be illegal.
Crossman Communications Managing Director, Jackie Crossman, said it’s an emotive issue and a sizeable chunk of the community is concerned at how invasive the promotion of sports betting is.
“Given two thirds believe advertising by sports betting agencies leads to an increase in problem gambling, it’s no surprise the federal government will ban the promotion of live betting odds during coverage of sports events if broadcasters, betting agencies and sporting codes don’t voluntarily stop the practice,” she said.
The Newspoll survey of more than 1200 Australians aged 18 to 64 found that almost half of the population, some 47%, rank tobacco advertising as the most harmful to the community, with 28% more concerned about the effects of alcohol advertising and 11% ranking advertising by sports betting agencies as the most unpalatable.
Approximately one in three (32%) nominate sports betting as being either the most harmful or second most harmful out of the three choices, a result Crossman says is surprising given the historical baggage tobacco and alcohol advertising carry.
“We suspected Australians would identify tobacco as the number one villain much more emphatically,” she said. “Sports betting agencies have a massive perception problem to overcome when almost one in three Australians rank their advertising as more harmful to the community than tobacco or alcohol advertising.”
But Crossman believes those opposed to sports betting sponsorship and advertising will need to mobilise soon or risk having the practice become mainstream, particularly among young men.
“Not only are the younger generation less concerned about the marketing practices of sports betting agencies, they are also the biggest customers,” she said.
“The 18 to 34 age bracket is almost three times more likely to have a regular bet than those aged fifty plus and they are considerably more laissez-faire and opposed to controls on sports betting agencies.
“It used to be that we enjoyed a flutter on the Melbourne Cup and had the odd spin on the pokies. But the introduction of more exotic options and the promotion of odds and options at venues and during coverage has normalised sports betting for younger segments of society.
“When such sophisticated marketing practices become mainstream it is extremely difficult to turn back the tide…and young males are the ones happily riding the waves.”
The Newspoll found that 28% of men surveyed place a bet at least once a month compared to 9% of women and Crossman suspects sports betting agencies will be placed under even more pressure if women become aware of their marketing techniques.
“The female demographic is the sleeping giant,” she said, pointing out that the survey had a high proportion of women featuring in the ‘can’t say’ category – 30% of polled females sat on the fence when asked whether sports betting agencies should be allowed to sponsor sporting teams or events and almost one in three were similarly unable to make a call when asked if giving odds during live TV coverage should be allowed.
“I’m positive so many women are in the ‘can’t say’ category, not because they can’t make up their minds, but because the issue hasn’t registered on their radars,” Crossman said. “Women are not as intimately involved or passionate about elite sport as men and, subsequently, sports betting doesn’t touch them to the same extent. They simply don’t watch sports coverage or read the sports section enough to get a feel for the issue and would prefer to spend hard-earned money on more tangible goods and services.
“If mums and girlfriends turn the heat up on this issue the odds of sports betting agencies being able to market their product via sports teams, venues and events will plummet.”