From March 2023 in Australia, Gamble Responsibly advertising taglines are being dropped in favour of a set of messages designed to influence gamblers consideration of whether gambling is worth the loss. Whether they will be effective in influencing behavioural choices is hotly debated, with commentary suggesting capability of GR taglines reducing or preventing harm as low . While the GR taglines are certainly an improvement to the ambiguous ‘gamble responsibly’ message, do they go far enough?

What are the new taglines?

Online betting companies are required to use new taglines in ads they share across multiple platforms including television, radio apps, digital or print advertising, social media and websites. A tagline is a short and easily remembered phrase that a company uses so people will recognise it or its products.

The seven new Gamble Responsibly taglines are designed to encourage consumers to pause and consider the consequences of losing a bet highlighting loss attributes such as:

  • ‘Chances are you’re about to lose.’
  • ‘What’s gambling really costing you?’
  • ‘You win some. You lose more.’
  • ‘What are you prepared to lose today? Set a deposit limit.’

Or asking consumers to question their behavioural choices such as:

  • ‘Imagine what you could be buying instead.’
  • ‘Think. Is this a bet you really want to place?’
  • ‘What are you really gambling with?’

To reduce message fatigue the new taglines are to be rotated over a 12-month and accompanied with a call to action ‘For free and confidential support call 1800 858 858 or visit’.

“Australians lose an astounding $25 billion dollars a year on legal forms of gambling and are some of the world’s heaviest gamblers per capita.”

Grab money

What is the problem?

Australians lose an astounding $25 billion dollars a year on legal forms of gambling and are some of the world’s heaviest gamblers per capita. Online gambling is the fastest growing gambling segment,  with sports betting the primary growth category. Pandemic restrictions contributed significantly to the growth of online betting, facilitated by ease of access via smartphones making it easier to bet anywhere, any time of the day. Not only is online gambling highly accessible but also heavily promoted. In Victoria, children and young adults are exposed to over 900 gambling ads per day with exposure to gambling ads across varied social environments – local shopping malls, social media platforms, sporting matches, at home – normalising gambling as an everyday activity .With sports betting a key growth sector it is unsurprising that children and young adults are associating gambling as an integral element of sport .

Gambling-sport normalisation is further reinforced by the ubiquitousness of gambling advertising with the industry spending a whopping $287.2 million on advertising in 2021, compared to $15.9 million in 2020. With this level of investment in ad spend it isn’t surprising that children and young adults are extremely adept at recalling and recognising the logos, jingles, taglines, colours and celebrity endorsers – such as Shaquille O’Neal – of sport bet brands. This level of gambling advertising rings alarm bells as young people, particularly young males, are increasingly drawn into sports betting. Young males are more likely to make their first bet prior to 18 years, bet more when drinking and experience greater levels of gambling harm relative to women. Yet women’s betting is also on the rise with the emergence of female-focussed gambling ads.

Are the ad messages enough to influence behaviour?

There is no doubt that the new GR taglines are a positive replacement to the broad, ambiguous ‘gamble responsibly’ messages. Based on behavioural insights, the GR taglines highlight a variety of harm reduction motivations and preconceptions. Importantly, the message heuristics aim to reduce cognitive distortions of gambling and bet size to cut-through a gamblers ‘illusion of control’ and fixation on ‘loss chasing’ behaviour.

Yet, as with majority of tagline messaging, the onus of preventative responsibility lies with the individual experiencing gambling harm. Targeting conscious decision-making there is an assumption that the gambler’s response will be positive and rational. That by informing gamblers of the risks and low chances of winning they will correct their behaviour. By default, challenging a gambler’s cognition competes with their perception of smart decision-making – that they can win against the odds – that they are a smart gambler – that they have control – that they don’t have a problem!

The new GR taglines are a positive start towards nudging gamblers to consider their losses and behavioural choices. They address key gambling biases. Yet, unless the individual acknowledges they have a problem it is unlikely the messages will have a significant impact on influencing gambler’s behavioural choices, particularly high-at risk gamblers.

“There is growing concern about the relationship between betting companies and professional sports teams and the growing reliance on betting money.”

Leveraging insight from tobacco and road safety contexts, preventative advertising alone is insufficient. Government harm reduction policy and legislative enforcement, alongside addressing influences in the broader system is critical. Australia led the race in reducing tobacco harm with significant investment to addressing system impacts including bans on tobacco sport sponsorship, tobacco advertising and counter display communications, alongside plain packaging requirements. In turn, these actions significantly reduced capability of tobacco companies to recruit new smokers. Australia’s road safety achievements are attributed to significant investment in road safety advertising, improvements to roads and universal changes in driver training and attitudes.

To reduce gambling harm greater attention needs to be directed to the ‘gambling system’ rather than simply devolving all responsibility for addressing gambling harm to the individual, which in turn absolves betting companies’ responsibility beyond abiding government regulations. There is growing concern about the relationship between betting companies and professional sports teams and the growing reliance on betting money. Wagering companies have had a long relationship with professional sporting organisations, clubs, broadcasters and former stars. For example, it’s estimated the AFL possibly receives close to $40 million annually from their sports betting relationship. Taking a stance to alleviate the tension between Australian sport and normalisation of wagering there is hope with a growing movement of clubs and former stars ‘saying no’ to sports betting funding.

There is also momentum questioning whether gambling advertising needed at all. Australia took a stance to reducing harm from tobacco by attacking tobacco advertising and sport funding relationships. The question at the time raised by professional sporting leagues was ‘what will we do without tobacco funding?’. Sporting organisations survived. No doubt this question will be asked again if the government takes a strong stance to reduce wagering normalisation. No doubt sporting leagues will again survive.


Dr Marie-Louise FryDr Marie-Louise Fry is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Marketing in Griffith Business School Her research interests brings practical and theoretical insight into understanding consumption behaviour across a variety of marketing arenas. She specialises in social marketing – alcohol behaviour change – giving particular attention to why people do things that are manifestly bad for them; why they won’t do things that are obviously good for them and what will it take to reverse that. Marie-Louise is widely published in leading marketing and behaviour change journals, sits on the editorial board of two academic journals and is a frequent speaker at behaviour change and marketing conferences.


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