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GambleAware calls for ‘more compelling’ safer gambling messaging

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GambleAware has called for evidence-based health warnings to be placed on UK gambling adverts after conducting research on the current inadequacies of safer gambling messaging. 

The gambling harm prevention charity’s call for “more compelling” safer gambling advertising comes after it commissioned a report curating responses from over 7,000 people on the topic of safer gambling messages. 

Weighing up the need for clearer safer gambling messaging the report called into question the effectiveness of ‘Take Time To Think’, a widely used industry-led safer gambling slogan. The research was conducted by specialist communications agency The Outsiders and also included quantitative research conducted by YouGov.

The research revealed that the slogan ‘fails to land the jeopardy of gambling harms’ while also failing to signpost where people can find help for gambling harm issues. 

Alexia Clifford, Chief Communications Officer for GambleAware, said: “Gambling harms are a serious public health issue, and it is vital that people are aware of the risks associated. Today’s landmark study underscores the need to replace the industry-led slogan ‘Take Time To Think’ with more compelling health warnings.

“We’re also concerned about operators’ misuse of the GambleAware logo and the lack of clear signposting to support channels. We urge industry to take heed of the growing body of evidence highlighting the need for better safeguards and restrictions.”  

The study indicated three new health warnings that could be more effective than TTTT, aiming to be ‘clearer, more impactful, and more memorable’ to the general public as well as gamblers. 

Looking to emphasise the addictive nature of gambling, the report suggested that ‘gambling can be addictive’ had a greater cut-through with people who gamble, with 46 per cent of gamblers seeing it as more impactful compared to 35 per cent for TTTT. 

Meanwhile, 22 per cent of gamblers surveyed believed ‘gambling comes at a cost’ was more impactful and memorable than TTTT, compared to 12 per cent in support of TTTT. 

The third and final suggestion, ‘gambling can grip anyone’, reportedly also performed well across metrics. 

Dr Raffaello Rossi, a lecturer in marketing at Bristol University and co-author of the research, commented: “In the absence of strict gambling marketing restrictions, it is absolutely vital that we see warnings on gambling advertising that highlight the addictive nature of gambling, paired with clear, unambiguous signposting for people to access support if needed. 

“We need to see better regulation of gambling operators who are widely bombarding us with their ads.”

Additionally, the findings showed that a clear and separate GambleAware health warning at the end of a 30-second gambling advert was more than twice as effective at signposting support, with 72 per cent agreeing versus 30 per cent in support of TTTT. 

With lived experience of gambling harm, Sam Starsmore added: “I’ve experienced first-hand the profound impact of gambling harm on every aspect of life – mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. Sadly, there are potentially millions more people out there at risk of harm, and if they or a loved one are concerned about their gambling, they need to know where they can get help.

“Gambling operators spend millions on advertising, but there isn’t nearly enough regulation and signposting to support services that have to be improved. Reflecting on my personal experiences, the safer gambling messages never had an impact in providing me with a platform or direction to seek the support I crucially needed.

“Change is needed and could help prevent so many people from more serious consequences further down the line.”

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