Not long ago, an interesting piece of news landed on my newsfeed. Gambling company Betfred had signed a deal with famous boxing announcer Michael Buffer. For those of you who don’t know who Buffer is, I’ll get to that in a minute. At first, I didn’t think much of it. It was just another star working for their daily bread, I guess. Yet, soon my mind was busy thinking about celebrities and their involvement in the online casino industry. Is it moral to use your personal influence and status to promote gambling? Do these people even know what they signed up for? And in the end, who is it to blame if vulnerable groups, such as teenagers, get influenced (I’m using this term purposefully) to join an online casino?
Gambling Industry as Part of the Celebrity Image
Now, let’s get back to Buffer for a bit. This guy is not a celebrity, but an institution. His famous words “Let’s get ready to rumble!” are repeated all over the world on many occasions. Buffer’s deal with Betfred looks like a legit one, and the one I would approve of any time of the day. Besides a series of ads, the announcer also shot an educational video on the importance of safe and responsible gaming. So far, so good!
I have no idea who’s working for Buffer behind the scenes, but they obviously know how to build their client’s fortune and keep up an impeccable and highly marketable image. After all, this is a celeb who also has a slot machine with his name on it, so there must be someone who knows the online gambling industry on his team. Needless to say, Betfred is a recognized gambling company around the world. For this reason, its campaigns are never focused only on the celebrity and the promotion of its gambling products. Its ads have an additional value, in terms of education and promoting safe gambling practices. Great job, everyone!
Another stellar example of a good celebrity collab is the one between the movie star Kevin Hart and poker platforms. Okay, I get it. Kevin Hart’s humor is cringy at times, but this comedian is a perfect example of a celebrity endorsement done right. The most important thing is – Hart actually plays the game. Second, when the actor signed the deal with PartyPoker in April 2020, he immediately invited all users to stay safe and play responsibly. During the height of the pandemic and lockdowns, both PartyPoker and Hart could have easily turned a blind eye to safety and grabbed the money while they could. But they didn’t.
Influencers: Many Followers, No Value
And now for the shadier side of celebrity endorsements, even though I would never consider influencers to be real celebrities. That is just my opinion. Please know that I don’t mind real hard-working gaming influencers. There are a bunch of people out there who spend a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) in creating high-quality casino content. I applaud them!
However, when I see a certain type of influencer promoting casinos, my eye begins to twitch (no pun intended!). It’s those reality-show stars, Z-listers, and random influencers that get on my nerves. I am just happy I’m not the only one. This May, a group of Instagrammers faced a public backlash for promoting gambling (amongst other things) to underage audiences. The company involved tried to minimize the damage and Instagram made a vague statement without making any real moves to prosecute anyone involved. And the influencers? Well, they kept their mouth shut. If you were wrong, you can at least apologize.
Let’s be real for a second. Kevin Hart is probably not someone who will appeal to kids and teens, and neither is Buffer. Do kids these days even know who they are? The celebrities they do know are all the Tik-Tokers and other social media personalities. The fact that these influencers’ audiences are often people under the age of 18 should be enough for them to reconsider their content. Don’t forget, such influencers tend to accept any and all deals, without even thinking twice about what they are doing. I completely understand their fame is easy come, easy go, so they try to max out on the wave of their celebrity status.
Shared Responsibility and Strict Rules
In my opinion, you should never, ever trust a person who recommends a gambling platform in a post crammed between a video about plastic surgery and another about hair vitamins. These influencers regularly have no criteria, and what is even more dangerous, they have no clue about gambling or its potential costs. Teenagers, who often lack judgment and life experience due to their age, probably won’t be aware of the dangers either.
As I like to say – we all have to play a role in keeping gambling safe. I really hope we’ll soon see a more proactive approach not only by regulators but by individuals as well. Influencers play a huge part in making gambling posts accessible to audiences that should not really be seeing them. There has to be some sort of personal liability involved. If Hart and Buffer can invite everyone to stay safe, so can influencers. Right now, you can find posts with false promises attached to them in just a few clicks. That goes against all advertising rules.
Gamblers, on the other hand, should take celebrity endorsements with a pinch of salt. The problem is that customers who get attracted by the picture of David Hasselhoff, Hart, or Buffer are not the same crowd that is used to seeing lifestyle photos on social media. Social media platforms (and influencers) are, unfortunately, far from having consistent guidelines, and many sponsored posts fall into some sort of gray area when they really shouldn’t. Considering that they are colorful promises of a better future aimed at those who don’t know any better, they are pretty easy to spot. There is no excuse not to put a warning on them or limit their accessibility.
This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and it doesn't represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.