One overriding topic in the European gambling industry over the past 12 months has been regulation. Tying into this is advertising.
Spain is attempting to introduce stringent regulations that would stop sporting sponsorships amongst other things, while ad laws that might come into force in Germany have also been criticised.
Recently, VIXIO GamblingCompliance hosted a webinar looking at what the future of iGaming ads in Europe might look like. The session involved Vasiliski Panousi of the European Betting and Gaming Association (EBGA), as well as the UK Advertising Standard Authority’s Andrew Taylor. Connor Murray of the ETGA was also in attendance, with the panel being moderated by VIXIO GamblingCompliance Legal Analyst Boguslaw Kott.
Here are some of the important things to note from the session.
Self-regulation can help stop authorities from enforcing stricter measures
A theme in some markets recently has been self-regulation. In 2018, operators agreed to a ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban on gambling advertising during televised sporting events. Brands in Spain agreed to a similar restriction last November.
According to Panousi, self-regulating is important for the industry to show that it’s serious about player protection. She also referred to the EBGA’s new code related to gambling advertising.
“It’s about showing leadership and about taking responsibility. (…) If we want to survive, we need to take responsibility and we need to be able to show it.
“I think that the Code is an excellent opportunity to do so because it is a thoughtful initiative.”
Getting too restrictive is counter-productive
In markets such as Sweden and Germany, gambling regulations have been criticised for being too strict or getting stricter. Those who express such opinions believe that the ability for operators to promote themselves, as well as the presence of affiliates, can help players to pick brands with a licence in a specific market. If these brands are unable to have visibility, then players will be more prone to betting with unregulated operators.
Black market operators pose a number of problems. Aside from the fact they don’t pay tax in countries where they aren’t licensed, they also aren’t subjected to the same restrictions as regulated operators. This means that they can skimp on player safety, as well as gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace.
Panousi thinks that rather than restricting how many ads are seen, a better approach might be to analyse the messages displayed in them.
“This is the biggest challenge for regulators. There should always be an assessment I think on how to achieve sustainability and high channelling rates. And is exactly why perhaps the focus should be more on content of ads rather than volume of ads.”
Addressing the challenge of achieving business goals while also meeting social responsibility requirements
Marketing and advertising are important parts of many businesses’ growth strategies. This is no different for online gambling operators, especially with so many websites and bookmakers out there these days.
As the session summary says:
“With far greater emphasis on sustainable business and corporate social responsibility at European level, operators will inevitably have to balance responsibility in conducting their business with the objective of growth.”
Going forward, operators are going to need to figure out a way to protect players better – while still being profitable. And brands are already being proactive in this sense. One example is Kindred Group, which has made a commitment to sustainability that allows the business to both grow and promote responsible gambling through its partnerships. Casumo has also utilised its brand name for a greater cause, which included responsible gambling messages as part of its Reading FC sponsorship for the 2019/2020 season.
It’s likely that we will see more done in the sense of community engagement to meet these objectives going forward.
Gambling operators in Europe face a unique set of challenges when it comes to gambling advertising. There’s the need to contend with growing restrictions, while also committing to their player safety measures while also continuing to move forward in a business sense.
Proactivity will become even more important in the coming years. This goes for individual operators implementing their own responsible gambling measures, as well as both they and affiliates playing a role in self-regulation.
As Panousi said, it’s up to the entire iGaming industry to take responsibility and seize the initiative. If operators and affiliates can’t show that they are responsible then regulators will take things into their own hands, but fortunately more are showing that they can be trusted.
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