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The role and impact of operator marketing and communications

Operator marketing and communications are varied, taking many forms (e.g. advertising, sponsorship, direct comms), and with different purposes (e.g. brand building vs. call-to-action focused). Different types of marketing activity feature at different stages of the gambling journey and can be more-or-less influential at different stages. For example, a TV advert with the intention of raising brand awareness for the operator would be a factor at the Passive Influences stage, whereas an email with a special offer or free bet would be considered as part of the External Triggers or Play Experience stages (depending on the timing and whether the recipient was already taking part).

The three phases where marketing and comms tend to influence the gambling journey are in Passive Influences, External Triggers, and Play Experience.

Passive influences

It is typically advertising and sponsorship (not direct communications) that are a factor at this stage. Generally considered to be ‘background noise’, advertising and sponsorship is widely noticed but considered to have minimal impact on behaviour. However, it is worth considering to what extent this continued exposure contributes to a sense of familiarity with operators and/or activities – which becomes the biggest influencing factor at Active Search.

External triggers

It is special offers that are most influential at this stage – both in terms of prevalence and level of impact when they are received. They come second only to it catching the eye (which is predominantly driven by scratchcards) and are particularly influential for online bingo and online casino games. Other marketing can play a role at this stage, but they tend to be more influential when there is a special offer element included (e.g. if they see a TV advert that includes a special offer, it is the special offer that is motivating, not the fact that it is a TV advert).

External Trigger (Prevalence x Encouragement) Factors

A table showing external Trigger (Prevalence x Encouragement) Factors. Data from the chart is provided within the following table.

Factor Percentage
It caught my eye 12%
I received a special offer or free bet specifically for me 6%
I saw or heard about a special offer or free bet open to everyone 5%
The prize or odds were much better than you usually get 5%
I saw or heard an advert for a gambling company 5%
Someone gave me a good tip 4%
I saw a reminder about a special offer that was about to end 4%
I received an email from the company 4%
Someone else suggested it 4%
I was talking to somebody and the topic came up 3%
I saw some gambling sponsorship or logos 3%
Someone else arranged it all 3%
I saw it when I was playing or betting on something else 3%
I received a notification from a gambling app 3%
I received a text from the company 2%
I saw someone I know on social media talking about playing or betting 2%
I saw a gambling company post something on social media 2%
I saw a sign, pop-up or advert for another game or bet 2%
I saw a celebrity or influencer talking on social media about it 1%
Something changed that made a bet more appealing 1%
Something changed that changed the odds or prize 0%

Question details: EXT1. Thinking about the time when you (ACTIVITY), which of these, if any, did you see or experience? Even if it didn't influence your decision, please tell us if it happened. EXT2. And to what extent do you think each of these influenced whether you gambled?

Base: Prevalence: all respondents (937) Encouragement: all who experienced each trigger, base varies by trigger, triggers with a base under 50 aren’t shown.

Play experience

Again, it is special offers that are most influential at this stage. 1 in 5 see or receive a special offer during a play session, and with the strong encouragement to continue playing they create, offers are the third most influential factor (after winning and having fun) in terms of impacting continued play. In addition to this, 10% see information relating to cross-play – typically encouraging multiple games/bets within the same operator (rather than switching operators).

Key stats on the role of marketing in path to play

The following statistics are based on claimed recall from survey participants:

  • 45% see or hear advertising from gambling companies often or all the time (passive influence)
  • 22% of all gamblers received an offer before taking part (external trigger)
  • 20% saw or received a special offer while playing (play experience)
  • moderate risk - problem gamblers are more likely to report that they have seen or heard about a special offer (15%) or receive an operator email (14%) than lower risk gamblers (7% and 6% respectively).
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The role and impact of safer gambling messages and interventions
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