This is where the latest Betfair advert comes in.
Betfair, like all popular Betting Sites and Shops in the UK, promote ‘responsible gambling.’ This means that they encourage Gambling only for fun, for leisure, and only with money you can afford to lose; that they supply information for those who think they may have a gambling problem, and to direct them to the appropriate help should they need it – such as through Gamcare or Gamblers Anonymous. This is why I am completely dumbfounded as to what Betfair have done with their latest advert – that the main protagonist, to me (and I have many years’ experience of working in the Gaming industry), shows many of the traits of a problem gambler, and Betfair themselves, through the way they have shot the advert, seem completely cool with this.
‘You’ve backed United to win,’ says the voice-over after the TV commentary has informed us that they lead 3-1; ‘do you cash out?’ the voice teases us, ‘or don’t you?’
On closer inspection, the cash-out option is offering our man a £7.18 profit on a £20.00 bet, when the maximum he is hoping to win is £8.00 if he doesn’t cash out (and if United win); he decides not to cash out, as the camera cuts to his anxious-looking, staring eyes.
As Everton (Man. United’s opponents) pull a goal back to make it 3-2, he runs his hands through his hair; again, we get the ‘Do you / Don’t you?’ voice-over. As United put another away to restore their two-goal cushion, the scene cuts back to the crowd of people watching the game, and although everybody else in the pub seems to be enjoying the game, our Betfair Gambler’s enjoyment looks strained. We see a close-up of the nervous look on his face and the sweat building on his brow; we get a thumping heartbeat sound effect, indicating his increased stress, tension and anxiety.
As his finger hovers over the Cash Out option again (showing the same option to take a £7.18 profit), I’m thinking: surely if the stress is THAT GREAT, you would take the guaranteed profit at this point – is eighty-two pence really worth getting uptight about – especially when you could be enjoying the game and a relaxing beer with your friends? But obviously, he doesn’t.
Then, at 4-3, the camera points down at him, seeming to focus on him alone, indicating – to me at least – that this is how he feels: alone in the world. All this to the repeated thumping heartbeat. Now he DOES decide to Cash out, for the lesser profit of £4.35, from his £20.00 bet (rather than running the risk of losing his whole £20.00 should Everton equalise).
As he cashes out, it is worth noting that the director decides to show this part with the pub completely deserted but for him; I have no idea what this is supposed to signify, other than – once again – that he is all alone in more ways than one. When, inevitably, Everton do equalise to show us that his Cash out was wise (this was the genuine Premier league match from the back end of the 2011-12 season that ended 4-4), his buddies on either side of him don’t seem too impressed, but he has a little fist clenching celebration to himself; to me this indicates, not for the first time in this ad, that Gambling online is a solitary hobby, rather than a social one – for although he is able to punt at the pub, nobody is sharing in his pain and joy.
My point is this: that with the increased popularity of Sports Gambling, online and otherwise, this will inevitably lead to an increased number of addicts. This is NOT a nice situation to be in. It is one that can wreck lives, cause severe depression and desperateness. I appreciate that a very high percentage of people DO enjoy a punt purely for the fun of it, or bet because they have a ‘fancy’ for a certain team on a particular day. Those people do not usually get into this situation; but Betfair, and other Gambling companies, if they are genuinely going to take an interest in the wellbeing of their customers, need to take a look at how they promote, and advertise their sites and services. There is a fine line between caring for your customers or coming across as hypocritical.
This advert, when you get down to it, is one that does not show a customer having a pleasant Gambling experience.
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