Banning gambling from sports advertising does not work

To the average sports enthusiast watching their television screens or smartphone apps, there is little more as vulgar and intrusive as the almost ubiquitous presence of advertising related to gambling.

The presence of tacky gambling advertisements online, in print, on television and even on the jerseys of sporting heroes has led to a renewed backlash among fans -- from expressing annoyance to sheer outrage, the overwhelming consensus is that enough is enough, and something should be done about it.

“Something should be done about it” is usually a call from citizens for their political leadership to act.

But don’t expect legislation to solve the gambling advertising issue -- the power lies in the hands of the fans to change the practice, not in that of governments and legislators, according to one of the world’s foremost authorities on sports sponsorship.

Kim Skildum-Reid said banning gambling in sports advertising does not work -- but that fan-led backlash is far more effective.

Speaking ahead of the One-Zero commercial sports conference at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, September 17, Ms Skildum-Reid of Power Sponsorship said: “Gambling sponsors are pouring a ton of money into sports sponsorship around the world. Some countries, like New Zealand and Italy, have banned it.

“Other countries are considering it. The arguments for banning gambling sponsorship roughly parallel the arguments for banning alcohol sponsorship. In a practical sense, however, all of those arguments are due to fail.”

There are a multitude of reasons why it does not work, according to Ms Skildum-Reid.

“Logo exposure doesn’t, in and of itself, change behaviours or perceptions. This has been borne out in research dating back to 1991. It is leverage across marketing channels that creates perception and behaviour changes, but in most countries, the marketing of gambling is already well-regulated.

“Ambush marketing means nothing will change. The ability of an online casino to micro-target various sports fans by team, proximity, behaviour, etc, and the robustness of marketing channels, means that if a gambling sponsor wants to horn in on a fan experience, they can – ban or no ban,” she said.

Fans hold the key to real change rather than legislators, Ms Skildum-Reid said.

“The only way I think there will be a meaningful reduction of gambling in sport is if it’s driven by authentic fan backlash against it, rendering even ambush activities moot for all but the most committed gamblers.”

Ms Skildum-Reid will join speakers such as Chief Marketing Officer at the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL), Julian Duncan and Heidi Browning, who is Chief Marketing Officer at the National Hockey League (NHL) in the US, at the One Zero conference in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, September 17.

Three Irish sports business events have merged to deliver this unique international conference with cutting-edge keynotes, insights and learning around the sports industry's key issues. The conference is designed to pre-empt disruption, and hear from global leaders on emerging trends.

Power Sponsorship was started by Kim Skildum-Reid in 1994 to provide advice to major corporate sponsors in the Asia-Pacific region. Since that time, Power Sponsorship has evolved into a multi-faceted, global, and highly influential organisation. Clients include Target Stores, Unilever, Qantas, Dubai Government, SABMiller, ANZ Bank, QBE, Virgin Group, Singapore Government, Mazda, and Estee Lauder.