As the communication of the commercial messages of the gaming operators, especially online, is made with more and more sophisticated platforms, the authorities feel that the real possibilities of qualitatively and quantitatively pursuing these marketing activities are more and more difficult. In some cases, the authorities’ failure in regulating can lead to radical measures, which can lead even to the restriction or even the total or partial ban of the gaming advertising – this being a debate which has ignited in several European countries lately.
The effects of a responsible marketing on the players are a causality which doesn’t need a scientific demonstration. Other industries – including the entertainment one – have adapted to the times, policies and types of audience they address to and have changed both their marketing strategies and the types of contents. At the moment, the gaming industry is effervescent, and, perhaps, much too focused on growing to understand the risks it may be subject to by an insufficiently controlled marketing, lacking in ethics and focused strictly on profit.
”The gaming industry is facing a simple question: what do we choose when it comes to marketing, self-control (self-regulation) or expect for the governmental control (regulation)? Function to the answer, we have two types of consequences: negative consequences for the industry, which could culminate by the prohibition of the gaming commercials, or a marketing activity correctly regulated, supervised by the authorities, monitored and with anticipated effects. When talking about anticipated effects, we refer to reaching the commercial targets by honest, transparent messages, which protect the minors and other categories of risk, and which don’t violate the ethics or moral norms”, says Mr. Dan Iliovici, vice-president ROMBET. And he continues: ”Banning doesn’t mean regulating, but it is practically is an acknowledgement of one’s failure in managing a field. Thus it is being blocked a legitimate modality of the licensed operators to make their services known, those operators who act legally, leaving the way free for those operating under the counter. The client, the players can no longer make the difference between those who comply with the law and those who don’t. But the commercials, the advertising, the commercial communication in this sensitive field must be made responsibly. It is what I have called recently, within a presentation at Marketing in Gambling Forum: ”Responsible marketing”.”
While the challenges in measuring the impact of a specific advertising campaign over the behaviour in the gaming field are rather unknown, the researchers claim that an extended publicity or an increased exposure in general would stimulate a higher interest in gaming and would grow the general participation. Therefore, an increase of the publicity on a new market has the tendency to lead to an increase of the participation to gaming, but this effect would probably be moderate, based on the social adjustment pattern, as the individuals start to experiment the over-saturation to commercials, determining the participation to return to the pre-exposure levels. In other words, the society has its own self-regulation, its own balance and, provided it doesn’t reach the vulnerable categories, society knows how to avoid saturation. Because, the specialists also claim, young markets may pass through this process of “abundance” of marketing messages, a process present until the brands start to get distinct characters, within the limits of the norms.
Another risk regarding the responsible gaming associated to marketing is that of social acceptance. In 2010, a study directed by the researcher Ashlee Humphreys, Associate Professor of Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University, proved that the simple, repeated exposure to gaming by the agency of the publicity, increases the social acceptance and the legitimacy of the gaming, as an entertaining activity. The same study has shown that ”the potential harm caused to non-vulnerable categories by the repeated exposure is rather caused by the exposure to a harmful content” and less by the quantity of advertising.
In a famous psychology magazine, dr. Mark Griffiths, PhD., emphasizes the relation between gaming and responsible marketing: ”Responsible Marketing and advertising must think at the contents and the tone of the advertising in the gaming, including at using minors in the announcements and at including information about the games. There must exist a firm commitment towards a responsible behavior from a social point of view, which applies in all the activity sectors, including in sensitive fields, like gaming. Responsible advertising from a social point of view should represent one of the protection elements provided to common clients and to be reflected in the codes of practice. Children and players with issues deserve additional protection against exposure to gaming products and their advertising. Many codes regulating the marketing and advertising in the gaming field from around the world usually include special dispositions regarding the protection of these groups”, concludes professor Griffiths.