Is the gambling industry throwing itself into oblivion?
Tom Galanis, managing director of TAG Media, warns the industry’s patchwork adoption of advertising bans could prove costly in the long-term
Theirs not to make reply,Alfred Lord Tennyson
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die
Arise Kenny Alexander, Lord Cardigan. Fare thee well Lieutenant Colonel Patrik Hofbauer, Commander of Custer’s 7th Cavalry Regiment.
We are witnessing an under-prepared stampede towards oblivion in the double-barrelled name of over-zealous “doing the right thing” and flagrant protectionism.
It must stop now for I can assure you that Chief Gall Watson, Crazy Horse Webb and Lame White Man Zarb-Cousin have no intention of leaving a single man or horse alive in their quest to achieve “Fairer Gambling”. They are shaking their Little Bighorns over our chaotic, disjointed hurtle towards a socially responsible doom.
Just this morning, I received a proposition to remove a certain casino game feature to pre-empt an “inevitable” regulation change. “Think of the SEO benefits of receiving links from The Guardian”. Excuse my Cheyenne, but FML.
We are drowning in a tide of negative public discourse with our industry in the UK and all we have to offer is a revamped-but-nowhere-to-be-seen trade association and our market-leader blowing the whistle of retreat. Genuine social responsibility or a play timed in recognition that their consolidation drive still sees them lack the firepower of bet365’s Army of the North? Without solid and conjoined industry public relations, there is only one way this gets spun in the public eye. Sorry GVC.
Whilst we’re on the GOT analogies, a similar web can be spun on Svenska Spel’s call for a ban on online casino advertising in Sweden. To some onlookers, a move as cynical as Cersei’s destruction of the Great Sept and another would-be King too focused on historical family conflict to notice the Army of the Dead relentlessly pacing towards their gates.
This is all not to say that an end to television advertising is not a credible concession, nor indeed that the intentions of Mr Alexander and Mr Hofbauer hold no genuine care for their prospective and active clientele. However, these concessions are de facto wins for those who seek our demise. They are a well-organised media relations and lobbying machine, and all GVC and Svenska Spel are doing is providing political ammunition. Ending one form of advertising or another is ground which should only be given in a carefully conceived battleplan signed off as part of a centralised and coordinated PR strategy forged in the knowledge that we are at war and require urgent concerted and choreographed public affairs warcraft.
It is for this reason that I am ceasing the search for new business for TAG Media’s consultancy division and focusing as much attention as I can presently afford to deliver and coordinate a structure to wholesomely defend the credibility of the gambling industry. I salute Joe Saumarez Smith’s call to arms in EGR earlier this month and welcome others to join me in the ranks. We require a structure that drives genuinely socially responsible measures to positively reflect the hard work of hundreds of thousands of people in column inches and the halls of Parliament buildings in the UK and beyond.
Much is great and good about our industry and the efforts so many of us undertake each day to deliver a safe and entertaining experience to customers should be commended, not so persistently vilified. We must not let others sell those efforts short.
Tom Galanis is Managing Director of TAG Media, a marketing consultancy and performance marketing agency serving the online gambling and social gaming industries.
This article originally appeared in EGR Magazine on 29th April 2019