Problem gambling funding body GambleAware has launched a new television advert for its ‘Bet Regret’ safer gambling campaign to coincide with the start of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival horseracing event.
Launched last month, the campaign aims to help remove the stigma around gambling addiction and give people more courage to say they need help.
The new ad depicts a bored office worker placing a bet while sitting on the toilet at work. He is then transported to a racecourse and is questioned by ITV racing presenters Oli Bell and Alice Plunkett.
The 30-second commercial aired on ITV ahead of today’s (March 12) opening race. The four-day Festival will run until March 15.
“We hope this new commercial will get people thinking about their gambling habits and to recognise if and when they might be making a bet they will soon regret,” GambleAware CEO Mark Etches said.
“Betting when you’re bored or drunk or chasing losses can be risky, so we want to encourage people to think twice about these sorts of bets, before they make them.
“Cheltenham Races is one of the most popular betting occasions of the year, so we want to make sure people are aware of the risks linked to their betting habits.”
In addition to ITV, rival broadcasters Sky, BT Sport and Channel 4 are backing the new Bet Regret campaign. The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Google are also supporting GambleAware with the project.
The campaign also features digital and social advertising, as well as PR and experiential activity, and has been developed with input from various sources. Public health experts and academics that specialise in gambling harms, as well as treatment providers, charities and those with a lived experience of problem gambling, have all contributed to the effort.
However, despite this backing, the campaign has attracted some criticism over claims that the term ‘Bet Regret’ could increase self-blame.
Rebecca Cassidy, an academic at Goldsmiths, University of London, told The Guardian newspaper: “I’m concerned that messages like this one, which depict a gambler being berated for his behaviour, are unlikely to encourage gamblers to speak about their problems with their families or to seek support.”
Cassidy also hit out at the placement of a TV ad in between commercials for betting operators. She said: “It seems counterintuitive to me to introduce a message about harmful gambling among other advertisements for betting.”