Online gambling is constantly evolving. Mobile platforms are nothing new. We expect fast-loading and adrenaline-inducing games with brilliant visuals. We want bonuses bigger than the whole sky and, not to mention, fair bonus terms. At the same time, the regulatory framework tightens its noose around the neck of casino operators. Think advertising time slots late at night with lines and lines of disclaimers and warnings so long you can barely see the logo. Just think about the complicated AML policies! Obligations sure add up when you do everything by the book.
Even so, there is still one lawless land where brands can say pretty much what they want. Well, almost. In the Wild West, that is, 21st century social media, both brands and influencers can get away with a lot. And by that I mean more than they can in between half times of a Premier League match. Yet, very few authorities are keeping up with the casino Kardashians to see what they are up to. They don’t provide them with guidelines or slap them on their wrists.
It can easily be said there is no exact data on how many brands use this marketing channel. There is even less data on how many influencers do their job and convince people to sign up and play. When I said it was the Wild West, I wasn’t joking. No one is saving receipts.
However, considering everyone and their grandma is on social media, gambling influencers are gaining momentum and could turn out to be a perpetuum mobile. Like a well-oiled advertising machine, they release videos, stories, and streams without stopping. Neither here nor there, they are a bridge between casinos and players. As far away from traditional ads as they can be, and close to the average Joe, influencers cast a new light on gambling.
TV and online ads are distant, but influencers hit close to home. Very often, they represent themselves as our friends. Even though they regularly flash Balenciaga shirts, they build a connection with viewers living in all sorts of socioeconomic circumstances. They can sell the story better than any ad or SEO wizard. At the same time, influencers often have zero consciousness and zero responsibility.
How is that possible? In terms of gambling advertising, there are very few regulations that tackle them. For this article, I did some “research” on how frequently YouTubers add a transparent disclaimer. The results are shocking.
People who represent themselves as boys and girls next door tend to add a disclaimer at the very bottom of the video description, if any. Keep in mind, these are not legit UKGC-style disclaimers, but sentences with a lot of fluff and no clear message. One YouTuber simply claims, “This is an entertainment channel for +18”. Another person says, “This channel doesn’t promote gambling”. The thing is, it is promoting gambling by broadcasting massive wins of 40,000x the bet. It is not like this influencer is sharing a recording shot on a bad day! I did my best, and couldn’t find such a video.
Affiliate links, catchy titles, carefully curated descriptions — these guys cover all the bases. Also, they are still active on the biggest video platform in the world, which shows there is little to no will to put an end to this highly unregulated (and I dare to say, unfair) advertising channel.
All this being said, there are still a few rays of sunshine on the horizon. In December 2023, Italian authorities fined both Amazon’s Twitch and YouTube for promoting gambling. What makes the case more interesting, the Italian watchdog was mostly concerned with content creators, aka influencers. This Mediterranean country doesn’t allow any type of gambling advertising, and their actions are a great indicator of what might follow in the future.
Earlier this January, another European country realized things couldn’t go on like this. Estonia, an online gaming hub and a force to be reckoned with, is looking to impose restrictions on gambling influencers. The same policies are being implemented in Canada, Brazil, Finland, and other countries.
Merike Koppel of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications explained it is time to make laws with the future in mind. Koppel says that at the time the first draft of the law was made, there was no such phenomenon as influencers. In just a couple of years, they rose to prominence, convincing many to catch the gambling fever while making money for themselves. All that without a single warning in sight.
Online gaming regulators are rarely fast and responsive. The fact that certain countries are ready to make moves speaks of how big this problem is. Not every influencer is necessarily encouraging irresponsible gaming, but too many of them walk the thin line. They are downplaying risks and accentuating wins without disclosing the nature of their relationship with the casino.
I don’t know about you, but I dislike overhyped reviews and promises influencers are famous for. Every week, there is a new viral cream that will make me young again, a new game to play, and a new dance I don’t get. I may be old, but I still notice social media is tuned like a slot machine. It keeps you asking for more while losing track of time. Combine that with the allure of gambling, and your feed becomes a playground with no limits or warning signs, yet full of promises.
Enabling gambling within reason is one of the major concerns of regulators worldwide. Forcing influencers to keep up to the same standards as other advertising channels is the only way to progress. They might lose some charm, but they will get more credibility. In the end, that is what their audience deserves.
This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and it doesn't represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.