SportsBet is taking a half step back from its provocative ads with a new campaign that targets problem gamblers.
The Australian sports betting website will launch a $1.5 million advertising campaign in November to promote its “take a break” service that will tell punters how to avoid the dangers of gambling addiction, The Advertiser reported. The service will allow bettors to bar themselves—temporarily or otherwise—from gambling in SportsBet’s app.
The campaign will run for four weeks on free-to-air channels and online, according to the news outlet. Its launch will coincide with the spring racing carnival and the start of the cricket season, and SportsBet said it will still continue advertising its gambling services during the “take a break” campaign period.
SportsBet’s move comes a month after the Australian government announced its plans to review its online betting laws with an eye towards updating it to reflect the current technological landscape.
Independent Sen. Nick Xenophon, a tireless anti-gambling campaigner, told the news outlet that SportsBet’s campaign only shows there’s a lot the industry can do to curb the perils of gambling, but this shouldn’t be limited to just one operator since “you can easily get around it by going to another betting provider.”
Financial Counselling Australia has already suggested a national self-exclusion register as well as a compulsory mechanism for setting pre-commitment limits so gamblers can choose to tailor their betting limits.
“Each person that we talk to describes the power of sports betting advertising. It draws them in to try out gambling with inducements, then when they try to stop, the constant reminders, keeps them coming back to bet,” said FCA policy manager Lauren Levin in a post.
In the case of SportsBet, CEO Cormac Barry told The Advertiser that “take a break” has a “self-service nature” which means that gamblers don’t have the “psychological barrier” of telling the telephone operator they’re having issues and they want to close their account.
SportsBet has recently come under fire for releasing advertisements that critics said are “crossing the line between sexist to outright misogynistic.” In February, the sports betting company premiered a video that parodied Fifty Shades of Grey, in which they showed a woman in bed with a greyhound.
Three months later, SportsBet came up with another ad that raised the hackles of viewers and some critics. The commercial featured a boardroom meeting that included a reference to a “wife going down,” according to the Australian Financial Review, but majority of advertising watchdogs dismissed the complaints, saying it was not demeaning towards women since the ad’s premise was “sh*t you can do at the cricket, but not in the office.”
The Advertising Standards Bureau also dismissed the complaint of bestiality in connection with the Fifty Shades parody, saying that the ad was making fun of the movie “rather than an actual suggestion that the woman is having sex with the dog,” AdNews reported.