Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Why i hate the latest Betfair Advert

In a perfect world, people that love sport would watch it purely for enjoyment or for the way it makes them FEEL.  To those that don’t understand or like sport this is difficult to describe – but it’s the way I feel about the Champions League and what used to be known as the European Cup: a buzz, an inner feeling that something magical or incredible may be about to happen.  But with the influx in recent years of the internet, the temptation to gamble on the sports we love (or any sport for that matter) is more constant than it has ever been: from Bet 365’s Ray Winstone almost sinisterly imploring us to ‘Bet in-play…now,’ to the often hilarious Chris Kamara / Tiziano Crudeli ads for Ladbrokes, there is literally no escaping the constant urge to make sport ‘more interesting’ by staking some of your hard-earned money on it.

Even on Facebook recently, I listed my ‘Favourite Sports Teams’, amongst other things, as something to enhance my homepage.  Little did I know that a well-known Gambling Site would use this information to offer me a free £10 bet on Watford FC (my team) on my HOME page, complete with a link.  I didn’t input my information for this reason.  I did it to let people know what Sports Teams I support, and to get a bit of my beloved Watford on my page.  So what if I happened to be a recovering Gambling addict?  Would it be fair to show me these constant reminders – on a website that has nothing to do with Gambling – that a bet is just a click away?  It is getting too much in my opinion – the people that want to bet will find a way to, regardless of the advertising; but for a recovering addict who is trying to do anything to take his mind off Gambling, or someone on the edge, who thinks he or she may have the beginnings of a problem, these types of links and offers can be dangerous.

Personally, I only gamble online and only on certain sports, certain events.  My site of choice is Betfair, a site that allows you, on their Betting Exchange, to Back or ‘Lay’ (backing against something, e.g. backing a certain team NOT to win) against another Betfair user who wants to stake on the OPPOSITE result.  This has always seemed like a much more sensible way to gamble to me: after all, now I didn’t have to ‘beat the odds’ that the Betting Site had set, I just needed to be smarter than another gambler.  (This also makes very sound and reliable business sense from Betfair’s point of view too - because now for every winner on their exchange there is also a loser; they make their profits not from those customers that lose, but from the 5% commission they take from every win).
    And then there is ‘in-play’ betting.  The great thing about this fairly new innovation is that now you can win money by NEVER BEING RIGHT.  Yes, you read that correctly: you can win by just putting on the right bets at the appropriate time, and you can come away a winner, no matter what the outcome is.
    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.
    The advertisement starts with a ‘regular’ guy in the pub: a snippet of Clive Tyldesley commentary tells the viewer that a football match involving Manchester United is on the TV.  Our man’s fingers drum nervously on the table as he reaches for his phone to look at Betfair’s latest in-play odds of the match he is watching.  For a start, there is something about betting on your phone when you’re ‘out and about’ that smacks of a dependence on Gambling, in my opinion; but that’s another story.
    ‘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.

Follow me on Twitter @RichMcQuillan

Sample my book @

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment