Driving growth in a regulated betting & gaming market

The UK gambling market has always been robust. It’s the second-largest in Europe, and a massive 48% of Brits are reported to have gambled in Q3 last year. But a market this size calls for heavy regulation, and with a handful of new reforms on the horizon — like the introduction of an industry ombudsman — brands in the betting and gaming space must find a way to reshape the narrative. So, how can they tell positive stories whilst delivering on their social responsibility?

With operators making it easier to bet than ever, removing barriers and refining their apps to achieve a frictionless experience, the way consumers gamble has fundamentally changed. There are limitless opportunities to play, so it’s
no surprise that the government continues to tighten regulation on advertising.

Are new regulations changing the perception of betting and gaming?

In the latest round of reforms, a statutory levy was announced. Put simply, this is a percentage of Gross Gambling Yields (GGY) that bigger firms will be required to pay to the Gambling Commission, who will then use those funds to carry out ‘research, prevention and treatment’ (RPT) around gambling-related harms.

On top of this, a new Gambling Ombudsman is being launched to improve the accountability of the industry, and protect vulnerable bettors. This recent spate of reform news has inevitably generated some negative press around the betting and gaming sector. For instance, the Premier League has undertaken a voluntary ban on advertising for gambling brands on football shirts.

These new measures are fundamentally positive – they should lead to a safer betting environment, and increase penalties for non-compliant companies, lowering the risks for gamblers. Unfortunately, bookmakers look likely to take a financial hit as a direct result of these reforms. Yet the sports betting industry is a resilient one – and its bettors are a loyal audience that shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly when presented with the right incentives.

What does this change mean for businesses in the industry?

In the UK, the gambling industry is worth a huge £14 billion — and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. But businesses are grappling with a combination of troubled financial forecasts, and the potential for even more stringent regulations in the coming years, which sets a complicated stage for the future of bookmaking in Britain.

So brands in this sector are facing a challenge: they’re tasked with finding a way to encourage consumers to bet with them and drive business growth, without compromising their social responsibility. We’ve already seen a great deal of marketing geared towards the idea of ‘self-moderation’ in gamblers – with Safer Gambling Week back in November placing a real emphasis on this. But to avoid perpetuating negativity, brands need to strike a careful balance between upbeat, engaging content that speaks to the exciting social side of betting, and material that encourages accountability and awareness.

With this in mind, decision-makers need to take proactive steps which allow them to navigate these regulatory challenges, and kick-start a sustainable future for UK sports betting. Already, big-name brands like Ladbrokes and Paddy Power are diversifying their offering with ventures into the entertainment space, in an attempt to deliver value outside their historical range of betting and gaming services.

Another step that industry leaders could take is to work with regulatory bodies to address the growing divide, collaborating to deliver campaigns that can educate as well as entertain.

Using behavioural insights to deliver positive messaging and drive growth.

Now more than ever, it’s vital for betting and gaming brands to gain a thorough understanding of their target market. If they can forecast how consumer behaviour might change in line with these tightening regulations, businesses can respond with strategic marketing initiatives designed to combat hesitancy, whilst encouraging safer gambling.

For instance, some brands may need to reframe the conversation around gambling to detract from the negative, prioritising upbeat and wholesome messaging in their advertising. Similarly, others might consider dialling up (or launching new) loyalty and rewards schemes, which have a strong track record for attracting and retaining consumers.

Ultimately, leveraging behavioural insights to inform strategy is always a smart move. But when the UK sports betting market looks to face significant challenges in 2024, harnessing the potential of this research should be integral to the approach of betting brands. With access to the right data, and the means to interpret it, brands can identify opportunities for growth in both the retail and online sectors, while carefully observing best practices.

Keen to discover how an insight-first approach can benefit your brand? Get in touch with Mike Cooper to discuss the challenges this industry is facing — and how behavioural insights can help you overcome them.

Email: m.cooper@trinitymcqueen.com