ICE London: Panel questions logic of banning influencer marketing

February 6, 2024 2:01 PM
Photo: CDC Gaming Reports
  • David Cook, Special to CDC Gaming Reports
February 6, 2024 2:01 PM

Panellists at ICE London made an argument against banning social-media-influencer marketing in gaming, with one stating influencers can be used to help with responsible gambling messaging.

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Restrictions around influencer marketing are in place in several jurisdictions in Europe. In the UK, any features that could have a strong appeal to people under 18 are banned, including social-media influencers, as outlined in the Committee for Advertising Practice.

In the Netherlands, celebrities were banned from appearing in gambling advertising in 2022 and all gambling advertising is prohibited in Belgium and Italy.

A panel at ICE London focused on the challenges of operating and marketing gambling products to Generation Z, with influencer marketing one of the standout topics.

Rani Wynn, general counsel for operator and sports media company LiveScore Group, said: “Influencers are crucial to your marketing strategy. You just cannot be successful without influencer marketing. With Gen Z, we know influencer marketing is the most powerful for that generation, because they feel they can have a personal relationship and trust with that person.

“Potentially, we can use influencers more for good, if we can have a legal framework for different types of influencer marketing. We can use those people for safer-gambling messaging and helping players become long-term, healthy, sustainable gamblers.

“Is prohibition the right avenue to go down? That seems to be the way it’s going, like in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK.

“I wonder whether we’re missing a bit of a trick there, where we haven’t been able to find a balance between having strict rules and perhaps still being able to take advantage of that channel.”

Stéphane Vojetta, an MP of the French National Assembly for the Renaissance party, didn’t agree with the idea of prohibition, but tried to explain why this is a sensitive area.

“We cannot allow ourselves as a regulator to just go for prohibition,” he said. “We need to give this generation a chance to educate themselves at their own pace. It doesn’t make sense for people under 18 to be presented with advertisements for products that are prohibited. A lot of products and services are illegal for people under 18, so that has to be respected with advertising.”

Wynn responded by saying: “Just to be clear, I’m referring more to the delta between 18-year-olds and 25-year-olds. It’s quite a big gap, but in the UK, for example, you’re not allowed to use any kind of advertising that may appeal to people under 25.”

On a separate strand, Yardena Almagor, head of player safety for William Hill, called for improvements in education around gambling products for young bettors.

Almagor said: “The basics for anything to do with responsible gambling will be around education. It doesn’t have to just be around responsible-gambling tools, but things like how odds are calculated, how machines work, how you build a simple bet versus an accumulator. They don’t need to be educated on the technology, because they understand that better than anyone. Help them do it slowly — like we would with most investments.

“This is where education is really lacking. The current attitude is, ‘You’re 18, let’s go.’”