Researchers worry about gambling commercials blending with sports

Sports are a matter of pride, and gambling is about entertainment. Both worlds have converged recently; to some, it is a huge concern. This comes in the wake of research conducted by experts that have concluded that the number of gambling advertisements has risen in sports, touching almost 20% of every game without anyone noticing it closely.

Experts have also flagged this and said that practices like these are normalizing gambling and seeking greater regulation.

The research has been conducted for 5 NHL games and 2 NBA games from October 25–29, 2023. All broadcasts have been studied, including the pre-game. In all broadcasts, the research accumulated 3,537 gambling-related communications, which equates to approximately 2.8 per minute, or one-fifth of the total viewing time. The playing surface and the court or rink side accommodated more than 90% of the logos or references.  

According to Canadian gambling news, Markus Giesler, a professor at the University of Toronto, has expressed concern regarding the ease with which advertisers can now incorporate their brands into sports. FanDuel has been identified as the leading operator in terms of advertisement posting. Giesler has asserted that it is aiding in the normalization of gambling, further stating that gambling is universally regarded as a highly hazardous and perilous activity.

Also, gambling can be pretty addictive, with gamblers losing track of the time and money they have spent. Gambling is supposed to be fun and entertaining, but many gamblers take it upon themselves to recover the lost money instead of halting the session altogether.

What is equally concerning is that fewer than 3% of ads have been discovered to remind viewers that they must be 19 or older to gamble. This is about Responsible Gambling and the guidelines set by AGCO, which stands for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. The same number of advertisements have neglected to refer viewers to resources that can assist them with problem gambling.

That said, there is a counterargument to what researchers have concluded from their study. One anonymous stakeholder has said that the claim is overstated and that counting every logo is not the right way to do it.

Unsure of what the anonymous stakeholder has hinted at, authorities have decided to act however they can. Detaching athletes from the gambling industry has been proposed as an initial measure.

Brands in Ontario have used sports personalities and sportsmen to advertise. Leon Draisaitl and Mitch Marner appeared in a promotional video discussing a brand’s online sportsbook. While it will do little to address the real volume, authorities feel it could be a critical first step in the right direction.

Also acknowledged by researchers are those who have given up gambling but continue to get tempted because of such materials.

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