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TheScore Bet Shows Responsible Gaming Education Can Be Funny

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“Problem gaming is serious, life threatening, and is never funny. But responsible gaming could be — it’s education.”

When Keith Whyte, the National Council on Problem Gambling’s executive director, made that off-hand comment during a training session with theScore Bet‘s executive team, he had no idea it would morph into one of the more unusual responsible gaming campaigns since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018.

TheScore Bet’s Canada-based team took Whyte’s comment to heart. This week it rolled out a responsible gaming hotline that features a comedian and two actors in an effort to educate Ontarians about how to play responsibly. TheScore Bet is one of 14 digital sports betting and iGaming platforms currently live in Ontario, the first province to launch sports betting since the Canadian Parliament decriminalized single-event wagering last fall. Thirteen of those platforms, including theScore Bet, went live April 4.

Made you laugh

TheScore Bet’s hotline features responsible gaming tips from comedian Susie Essman of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame, as well as actors Rex Lee (Entourage and Young and Hungry) and Gerry Dee, who hosts Family Feud Canada and is based in Toronto.

The three are familiar to theScore Bet customers, as they have been the face of the company’s “Get Into Bet Mode” marketing campaign. In their current roles, they are the voices behind theScore Bet’s “Smart Tips to Bet Responsibly From Not-So-Smart People” audio line available at 1-888-SCOR-BET. The hotline also makes consumers aware of ConnexOntario, the province’s mental health, addiction, and problem gambling program.

Consumers can dial into the hotline and select which celebrity they want to hear advice from. Here’s a sample of some of the nuggets of wisdom:

Rex Lee: You should never have to lie to your friends about your betting behavior, but if you have to lie to your boss so you can work remotely from Cabo, that I support.

Gerry Dee: Trust me, gambling when you’re stressed or mad is basically like fading yourself. Terrible idea, and I’d know — I have terrible ideas all the time.

Susie Essman: Never try to win back anything you’ve lost — money, exes, anything. Hey, [bleep], that’s a great rule. … Really, that’s great advice.

 

Callers to the hotline are educated on everything from why and how to set time and spending limits, to why it’s wise to stop betting when “stressed or upset.” The hotline campaign has the blessing of the NCPG and the Responsible Gaming Council.

“While RG, of course, is intended to help those with gambling issues, it’s also about providing helpful and useful responsible gaming information to all bettors,” Aubrey Levy, theScore’s senior vice resident of marketing and content, said via email. “In consultation with RGC and NCPG, they both agreed that striking the right balance of humorous packaging around a positive and informative RG message was an impactful approach to communicate RG messaging.”

Whyte, whose organization runs its own hotline and educates stakeholders on best practices for implementing both problem gambling and responsible gambling programs, called the initiative “fresh” and said of prior efforts, “Most of the messages have been compliance-based and as exciting as a legal notice.”

Other out-of-the-box campaigns

In the U.S., Caesars Sportsbook ran its own unique responsible gaming commercial last December when it partnered with the Manning family — Archie, Eli, and Peyton. The ad introduced viewers to Caesars’ deposit, time, and spending limit features and encouraged anyone who felt they had a problem to call the NCPG hotline. The spot lacked the humor of theScore Bet’s effort, but it gave credible voices to the company’s responsible gambling features and the national hotline.

Whyte said the only other humorous responsible gaming program he can remember was the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s “GameSense” campaign. One commercial featured a golfer repeatedly hitting his ball into the water and a tagline that suggested that if repeating the same action continually results in a fail, it’s time to stop. Put into responsible gaming lingo, Whyte said, the ad was telling people to stop chasing their losses.

Dubbed the “Smarter Betting Hotline,” theScore Bet will market the new product across theScore Bet and theScore platforms.

“Responsible gaming and player education is embedded into our entire operation and it was important to us to roll out a dedicated RG campaign in connection with our Ontario launch,” Levy said via press release.

“While helping those with gambling problems is a core component of a responsible gaming program, RG is also about educating the market at large on how to keep gaming fun and playing responsibly. As with our overall campaign, we wanted to deliver that message in a way that is authentic and engaging, resulting in this campaign taking a different approach from the more traditional RG communications people are used to seeing.”

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