Italy gambling survey says most gamblers report “no link” between gambling & advertisingBy Luke Haward, CDC Gaming ReportsOctober 25, 2018 at 6:00 amA landmark study commissioned by the Italian Health Research Body Istituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS) has cast some degree of doubt upon the relationship between people viewing gambling advertising and then choosing to gamble, with roughly 80% of the study’s 12,000 respondents stating that they see no relation between viewing a gambling ad and choosing to gamble.These results are being largely reported across the gambling media as supporting evidence for the idea that there is little, if any, adverse connection between gambling advertising and problem gambling, but I feel a little healthy scepticism is in order before anyone leaps enthusiastically to such conclusions – much as the industry would like to.For starters, one key figure in the study is being misinterpreted. The study itself estimated that, of the 18.4 million people who had gambled recently in Italy (37% of the population), 13 million were purely social gamblers, with 2 million “at low risk” of becoming problem gamblers,1.4 million “at moderate risk” and 1.5 million who were already problem gamblers. So far so good. To that point, the media kept pace with the facts.The study further showed that only an estimated 13,000 people had received professional support for their gambling problem. This tiny figure was then variously used across the gambling press to champion the idea that these problems were not “extreme” enough to merit the need for professional support, with some outlets going so far as to report that only 13,000 players would be in need of such support. The fact is that such support systems are still very much lacking in Italy, and many who might have needed or benefited from such support likely simply did not know how to access it or did not have any such access at all.So, it is certainly true that just around 80% of respondents in this, the biggest-ever Italian survey of gambling issues, stated that advertising does not influence them to sit down and play. Rather than compelling us to believe that, therefore, ads don’t influence play, we might instead question how self-aware these respondents really are. Nobody thinks advertising affects them. This is a very common viewpoint amongst all kinds of ad-viewing populations.Why are corporations willing to pour millions into advertising budgets if the ads don’t work? If they don’t cause viewers to be more likely to use or purchase the product? It would seem to be money down the toilet. In other words, guys – if the ads don’t influence viewers to gamble, why on earth pay to run them?There’s plenty of room for self-denial in our relationship with gambling, and to consumerism and consumption itself. There’s certainly plenty of room for it in running a gambling service too. The truly farcical element in this situation is that the gambling industry is clutching at these stats as if they were some sort of evidence supporting the notion that advertising campaigns have no effect on problem gambling.The inverse logic is palpable in its desperation and would be well appreciated by the fine line of Italian satirists who have mocked the corporate and political processes in literary circles over the years.Meanwhile, 8% of all people who gambled at all in recent months are estimated to be problem gamblers. The pressure on the gambling industry due to government reforms continues.