Gambling advertisements have become increasingly prevalent during sports games, particularly since the legalization of single-event wagering in Canada. However, the extent to which they dominate broadcasts raises questions. As per research conducted by CBC and experts from the University of Bristol, on average, betting ads can occupy up to 21% of each broadcast.
For the initiative, the analysis was based on seven games, those were five NHL games and two NBA broadcasts aired live on television between October 25 and October 29, 2023. Experts counted the number of gambling messages, including gaming company logos, commercials, sponsored segments, and any time betting odds were put on display.
Findings from the Recent Study
Usually, the average hockey or basketball broadcast airs for approximately three hours, and experts examine footage for all seven games, while also reviewing any available pre-game show, which is normally half an hour. The research counted 3,537 gambling messages across all games, or about 2.8 every minute, equaling one-fifth of the viewing time.
It was reported that more than 90% of the logos or references were displayed directly on the playing surface or court- or rink-side. Meanwhile, FanDuel was the most commonly found brand as it had the most messages across the seven broadcasts, and accounted for more than a quarter of the total gambling messages found by the study throughout the seven sports games.
Markus Giesler, a professor of marketing at York University in Toronto said the results are concerning and raise alarms about how seamless the integration of sports and gambling has become. He believes all of this is helping to normalize gambling and he described it as very risky and a very dangerous practice which is masked as something fun and harmless.
One of the reasons for the influx of ads can be accredited to Ontario and its open iGaming sector for third-party operators. Just last week, the province shared its Q3 numbers from the sector, disclosing over CA$17.2 billion in handle and CA$658 million in gaming revenue. iGaming Ontario which oversees operations, revealed there were around 1.2 million player accounts in Q3.
However, Deirdre Querney, an addiction counsellor at Alcohol, Drug & Gambling Services in Hamilton, shares he has seen an uptick in calls for help since the debut of the private market. He explained that many people are complaining about the rise in advertising, as they are unable to watch a sports game without constantly being reminded of gambling opportunities.
Two-Thirds of Gamblers are At Risk
Still, concerns about gambling ads have not been left unheard, as months ago, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario banned the use of pro athletes and celebrities in such endorsements. But even in 2022, Statistics Canada revealed that two-thirds of Canadians who gamble were at risk of developing a problem gambling habit. The number could be even bigger now.
Source McMillan, Dexter; McNair, Madeline; Tomlinson. Asha ’’Hey, sports fans: You spend up to 20% of every game watching gambling advertising’’ CBC News, January 19, 2024