Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Victoria subtlely sustains addictive gambling

The Victorian government recently conducted a billboard campaign about pokie gambling. For me, it looked like they spent a lot of money. The billboards were placed on the major motorways and many public transport stops. The campaign made a lot of statements;
  • In the end the machines will win
  • Set yourself a limit & do not exceed it
  • Stay in control
  • Don't chase your losses walk away
Here's one obvious thing they did not state:

Don't Gamble on the Pokies

The fine print on the billboards advertised the logo and telephone number for Gambler's Help. My guess is that the creators of this message somehow expected motorists to grab a pen (while driving) and write the number down.

Here's an image from the billboard campaign that made it onto posters and signs in Victoria's pokie pubs and clubs. There is a subtle difference from the billboards which I'll point out at the bottom of today's post.This message does not even imply that a gambler should stop. Rather, it urges moderation. It could be that the possible loss of revenue motivates Premier Brumby to not try too hard to reduce pokie gambling. It has been reported that Mr. Brumby said that the Victorian Government's overall pokies revenue is worth about $1 billion per year.

Check out this video from Singapore and compare the messages being sent:


I'm sure you'll agree that the message in the Singapore ad is a lot more effective.

When seeing the Victorian billboard that stated "In The End The Machines Will Win" with the picture of a distressed but contemplative woman, I thought it was promoting a new sci-fi flick, Something like Wall-E goes bad.

Now for that difference....

Remember that the Victorian produced signs are to be placed on every pokie in the pokie room. They are to be placed on the 'Electronic Gaming Machine' where the gambler can see it while pokie gambling. When seeing these signs the gambler is sitting down, distracted only by the sights and sounds of the pokie room itself.

What the Government changed on the pokie room signs and posters was to delete the logo and phone number of Gambler's Help. Substituted for this message (providing a way for direct help) was a suggestion that the problem gambler pick up a free brochure (providing only indirect help). In this way, the possible addict has to front up to the cashier, pick up a brochure and then read through it.

If they call the VCGR as suggested, the gambler will get no Gambler's Help type service; just a referral. In fact, the sign tells you that you won't get any gambler's help from the VCGR just information on the conduct of gambling.

Why didn't they simply display the Gambler's Help phone number?

The answer seems that Mr. Brumby does not want addicts to stop gambing on the pokies. It seems that Mr Brumby's intent in spending this vast amount of advertising money was

Let's help.... but not too much.


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