If you watch TV late at night, particularly the lesser known digital channels you can’t fail to have noticed the proliferation of gambling advertisements recently. They seem to have exploded onto our screens from barely a trickle a year ago to being the mainstay of the advertising revenue for most of these channels.
From September 2007 when the ASA removed the main restriction on advertising Gambling on TV we have seen a steady creep of these advertisements onto our screens. And as the recession has bitten it has become more and more obvious.
The targeting is quite clever as well, as apart from the major companies offering to take your money off you during half time on ITV, the main growth has been on the minor channels and aimed later at night. This audience is clearly broken down by gender with for example more men watching CBS Action than ladies, and the ads are tailored accordingly. How many of us have been annoyed recently by Shane Warne telling us he’s changed the game? How many women have been tempted by a Lucky Pants ad?
Whilst the rise in advertising is in itself noteworthy as this is a shift of revenues away from traditional products onto the gambling genre, the key to this is the rise of tablets and mobile phones.
As these products become increasingly ubiquitous this has meant a shift in buyer behaviours with most of us now watching TV with a smart phone or tablet next to us. And this in turn means that the accessibility to gambling sites is nearer than it ever was. Add to the ease of access a degree of personalisation and you have, for the gambling sites, a winning combination.
But it is this personalisation that is the real issue. Mobile phones are personal. Tables are personal. Typically most people do not share them with friends, spouses and partners and as such your browsing habits, phone calls, texts and activities are largely protected. If you don’t believe me try asking the person next to you at work if you can borrow their phone to send a text.
So gambling is something you can do in a few idle moments when your partner is not there and that in itself is a very dangerous development. Whilst there will always be some winners we all know that with gambling the only winner will always be the house. The problem here is that it is all too easy to bet your house on it without your partner’s knowledge, consent or understanding and this will inevitably lead to problems.
How long before we see the rise in bankruptcy and repossessions blamed on gambling? How long before we realise that there really is a problem and we need to do something about it? If your partner likes to stay up late at night watching Chuck Norris underacting then maybe you need to start having conversation about gambling or at least make sure that you take their tablet to bed with you.