The marketers’ perspective on marketing and safer gambling

The Gambling Commission has reported on its website on a further co-creation workshop, this time focusing on “challenges and opportunities in marketing and safer gambling”.

It cites as the background to this workshop the rise in complaints about the sheer volume of gambling adverts during the 2018 football World Cup, with particular reference to “the amount of gambling adverts reaching children” (in relation to which the Commission provides a link to a Guardian article dated 15 July 2018 entitled “Children ‘bombarded’ with betting adverts during World Cup”).

As was evident from, for example, a presentation  delivered by Ian Angus, the Gambling Commission’s Programme Director for Consumer Protection & Empowerment, at the Know Now “Responsible Marketing for Gambling Operators” conference in October 2018, the Commission challenged the gambling industry to put responsible advertising at the top of their agenda.

It is therefore gratifying to read on the Commission’s website that it now says: “we’ve seen some positive outcomes – such as the ‘whistle to whistle’ ban – which stops adverts during live sporting events”.

It goes on to report on its recent co-creation workshop as follows:

Why was this event different?

We wanted to hear views of those responsible for creating marketing campaigns. It was an opportunity to share current practices, learn about shared challenges and start taking first steps in collaboration on joint solutions.

The objectives for the event were:

  • To promote collaboration and drive culture change
  • To facilitate industry marketing professionals discussing challenges and opportunities related to brand, advertising and safer gambling strategies
  • To provide an external perspective on the ability of marketing to impact social change
  • To start looking at joint approaches to address marketing research findings
  • To work with attendees and create a shareable set of recommendations (below) to improve marketing practices.


Teams Design process Evaluation

It’s challenging to recruit candidates with a regulation mindset. The pool of experienced gambling marketeers is limited. Brand reputation can help attract stronger candidates.


Incorporate marketing compliance consideration into the design process from the start. Ensure your team members understand their individual responsibilities in relation to marketing compliance.

Of Training

Your team members should understand the compliance element of their roles, work in line with your safer gambling strategy and constantly go through online training to be up to speed.



Listening to customers and contact centre calls provides invaluable insight into your audience. Consider specific training relating to compliance, marketing guidelines and gambling harms as part of inductions.


Don’t treat it like a tick box exercise. Aim to integrate marketing compliance with marketing. Consider having a marketing compliance owner within your department and how to involve compliance throughout the design process.

Responsible Gambling

Responsible gambling and evaluation need to be integrated. Incorporate evaluation in marketing processes, alongside commercial evaluation. How could you approach evaluating marketing elements?

Team Objectives

Should be consistent across the business, product design, data and other departments involved in marketing campaigns. Consider tying responsible gambling metrics with financial KPIs and incorporate appropriate reporting to monitor both.

Single Customer View

Work with your teams and have a consistent approach to marketing to individuals who return to gambling after a period of self-exclusion as well as customers who are under risk reviews on the back of activity indicating potential risk of harm.


Coordinate your activity with compliance to understand product innovation, associated risks and work together on marketing solutions fit for the current regulatory landscape.

What does customer-centricity mean for responsible advertising?

A customer-centric approach focuses on providing a positive customer experience.

We invited an independent marketing agency who presented successful, non-gambling customer-centric ad campaigns.

The marketers discussed the approaches to socially responsible marketing ads. Balancing both commercial and responsible messages, as well as understanding the impact on the audience.  In particular the content of gambling ads, celebrity personalities and the positioning and impact of safer gambling messaging.

The group also discussed the challenges around building content which will get the attention of  individuals who might be experiencing harm.

Attendees agreed authenticity was crucial when delivering a responsible message. Not only in tone of voice and messaging, but through visuals, as imagery should also reflect the brand’s identity.

The power of brand to attract new customers can be harnessed to safeguard them. At the same time, this can also impact existing customers.

The rise, and rise, of mobile gambling

Did you know the average person checks their phone every twelve minutes?

Part of the day focused on the impact of mobile and marketing via different online channels. Delegates discussed the opportunities which exist within digital. For example personalisation, digital disruption via carefully timed, in-app messaging and having a single customer view.

We also looked at two recent pieces of research, consumer research carried out by 2CV and gambling advertising market research by Ipsos MORI. The group discussed how using technology better could help to minimise the risks of children or vulnerable adults seeing gambling advertising.

Attendees focused on challenges around affiliate marketing and ensuring content is seen by the right audiences. They discussed current solutions such as automated platforms which can help to track where the ads appear.

First steps in industry collaboration – what comes next?

Finally, the group worked together to create a set of recommendations for their peers on:

  • Managing marketing teams
  • Marketing design processes
  • Marketing evaluation

You can read the full recommendations, along with ideas generated throughout the day in our Marketing co-creation workshop presentation.

The next steps will include a follow-up event next year. We will also be linking outputs from this workshop in our future project on establishing a single customer view.

This event was run by the Gambling Commission’s Insight Engagement team. We would like to thank all the attendees who joined us for their contributions.

Would you like to take part in future events? We are planning future collaborative projects in the areas highlighted throughout the day. If you are a marketer in the gambling industry, and would like to get involved, please email us.

You can download the Commission’s marketing co-creation workshop presentation below.

On the subject of gambling advertising, David Clifton:

  1. wrote in his capacity as SBC News Licensing Expert an article entitled “Time to start a constructive gambling marketing & advertising debate?” published in October 2018,
  2. was interviewed in October 2018 for an eGaming Review Compliance article entitled “Is the UK heading for an advertising ban?”,
  3. delivered the annual Gaming Regulators European Forum lecture entitled “Gambling advertising – turn down the volume or turn it off?” in February 2019,
  4. moderated a panel session – in the “Leadership & Vision” track at the Betting on Football conference in March 2019 – entitled “Sponsorship & Advertising – how much is too much?” (which you can view via by clicking on the relevant drop-down track menu),
  5. wrote an article entitled “The end for gambling advertising in Europe?” that featured in the “Getting on the right track” section of a special edition of SBC Magazine published in September 2019,
  6. spoke in a panel session – in the “Regulation in Focus” track at the Betting on Sports conference in October 2019 – entitled “The Future of Advertising” (which you can view via by clicking on the relevant drop-down track menu) and
  7. made a presentation entitled “The Role of Responsible Advertising in Responsible Gambling” at the “Safeguarding Standards” conference in Malta in October 2019, co-hosted by Clifton Davies and City Legal.
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