In recent times, betting or gambling apps have gained more popularity. Dream 11 ads for IPL last year is perhaps a good example to offer. The popular meme “Yeh mai kar leta hu… aap tab tak Dream 11 pe team banao” (I’ll do that…you can select a team on Dream 11). The series of short ads featured cricketers who interrupted people in boredom to encourage them to make a team on their app.
A long-running habit
Gambling isn’t a new practice. It needn’t nor ever was limited to sports. Betting on players behind the scenes isn’t an uncommon practice though. The insidious effect of staking money on one side can mean that the wealthy and powerful of its club can change the course of the game; if it benefits them. The unsuspecting spectators lose faith and players might lose their appeal.
The practice of gambling in the 21st century
Many view gambling as immoral. This is why gambling apps are more discreet about their advertising when they aim for a diverse vast audience. For example, this ad from Wynn bet features Ben Affleck, Melvin Gregg and Shaq.
Ben and Melvin are riding a car to their destination. The car and its driver have been used as a clever morph by Wynnbet, which doubles both as an audience and a representative of themselves. The casual conversation about the plays in the gamble; held within the constraints of the vehicle; is to introduce the app to a new viewer.
Both part ways as they enter the hotel. Ben Affleck being the representative of the user is met with advice. The advice is the metaphoric symbol of experiences, a user should expect when they step into their world. Ben rejects and accepts these at certain points.
It seems like Shaq’s addition in this ad was to raise the monetary value of the ad. It could also be to add an authentic factor to it; since he was a basketball player once.
In the ad, none of the participants ever make a direct claim about gambling. As mentioned above, the ‘bits of advice’ and the background visuals are an indicator for them. Even the occasional views of the app in the ad never directly nudge to gambling. The advertising is clever because a first view makes the actual message hard to decipher.
Censorship in India
While gambling is legal in some states of the US, it is completely illegal in India. However, the rules around online gambling are fuzzy. Thus, promoting such apps is possible but tricky.
Since gambling is bound within the shackles of immorality and law, searching for ads with direct keywords will never yield the right result. This is because companies will rarely try to risk their business by directly advertising for their apps.
To target a large audience, companies seek influencers. Promoting these apps through influencers serves 2 purposes:
- They can avoid the censorship of the big screens
- The heavy cost of production can be avoided.
The audience tends to trust influencers more. Hence, as long as the users are notified about the disclaimer, companies can avoid the run around law and answers they owe to the law enforcement.
The advantage of paying influencers to make an “ad” than making one themselves is that: the burden of app promotion lies on the individual promoting it. The company is absolved from the tricky responsibility.
To play it safe, influencers never market the app as a gambling app either. Instead, the sponsored videos are camouflaged as tutorial videos: “How to earn money using ABC app”
Skill or Dumb Luck?
Gif Source: Dribble Pinterest
While gambling on its own is a combination of luck, strategy and logic; it serves differently in sports. In the pre-digital world, people that gambled on players or teams were aware of the players’ skills. The gamble wasn’t fairly distributed on 3 factors. Also, watching the game unfold and seeing the players perform live was satisfactory. This meant that even if the gamble didn’t earn a profit; one could still relish the match.
However, when the same gamble is turned online, the developers of these gambling apps can determine the algorithm’s bias in the 3 areas. This also means that if someone has a gambling problem, they can encounter financial losses.