The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF) has a new campaign called BetRegret. The idea is that “BetRegret” is the feeling you get when you’ve spent too much on gambling.
I have to say I’m not sold on this. As a former poker machine addict, this seems to me like an attempt at a cute, catchy phrase that doesn’t really sum up the complexity or the depth of recrimination and self-loathing that gambling to excess brings about.
And the VRGF is aligned with the Victorian government, so their aims are inevitably influenced by that. As chief executive Serge Sando says: “Our message is not about stopping gambling, it’s about being aware of how much you’re gambling and putting in place some measures to reduce that risk and ensure gambling remains fun.”
Which is all well and good… but sometimes it HAS to be about stopping gambling. That’s a simple fact that has to be recognised.
But hey, at least they’re trying. “BetRegret” may be as flawed as the stupid “Gamble Responsibly” messages but it’s something.
The problem with a campaign like this is, it doesn’t stand a chance. Take The Age, for example.
Eight days ago it was the 30th of October. The Melbourne Cup was only days away, and media hype over the Spring Racing Carnival was reaching fever pitch. On that day, The Age looked like this:
Wall-to-wall advertising for SportsBet.
Yet today, with the Melbourne Cup done and dusted and millions of dollars in bets already wagered, The Age looks like this:
I’d suggest that maybe The Age is experiencing some BetRegret of their own… except that even while their front page runs these ads, their sports section still looks like this:
I’d suggest it’s The Age that has a problem.
9th November – UPDATED TO ADD:
And it’s not only The Age doing this. Today, 2 days after I published this article and the day after the Spring Racing Carnival concluded, The Herald Sun also joined the BetRegret party.
This, despite the fact that their racing section is sponsored by the TAB, and despite the fact that the paper ran ads for Bet365 and the TAB throughout the carnival.
Notice that neither publication aired a BetRegret ad until carnival was over, or nearly so.
Not good enough.