The IGEA Asks South Australia To Remove All ‘Gambling Starts With Games’ Advertisements

In response to a series of ads stating ‘Gambling Start With Games’, Ron Curry of the IGEA has written to the South Australian government asking that all advertisements be removed.

Earlier this week the South Australian government courted controversy with a series of billboard adds designed to alert parents to the issues of underage gambling on mobile devices. The ads ran with the tagline ‘Gambling starts with games’ — a tagline that essentially tarred all video games with the same clumsy brush and, bizarrely, ignores the research it cites on its own website.

The ad showed a young girl, playing on an iPad, surrounded by gambling chips. The message ‘Gambling starts with games’ sits above. According to the IGEA that message not only misrepresents the targets of South Australia’s campaign, it’s also technically is in breach of South Australia’s Advertising Guidelines.

Those guidelines demand that all advertisements remain accurate and objective in its representation of facts and statistics. The South Australian government advertisements, claim the IGEA, do not accurately represent existing research.

The letter states:

There are a number of representations that are likely to be interpreted by the Billboard, including:

• that playing games, including tablet computer games, leads to gambling; and

• that playing simulated gambling games leads to gambling.

Both of these representations are inaccurate and unsubstantiated. The most recent research cited by the website specifically states that:

“This study does not suggest that simulated gambling precedes or follows monetary gambling.”

Furthermore, the author of the most recent research cited by in 2012 stated the following:

“It should be recognized that any sort of gambling during adolescence does not necessarily lead to gambling during adulthood. Although early exposure may familiarize young people with gambling, it does not always follow that involvement or interest in gambling at a younger age will be associated with subsequent gambling”

And later:

The statement on the Billboard is highly inaccurate and the advertisement fails to source any relevant data. Furthermore, the existing research simply does not substantiate the statement made on the Billboard.

The IGEA is now requesting that South Australia not only remove the ‘Gambling Starts With Games’ billboards, but post a written statement on the South Australian Premier’s website acknowledging the error.

IGEA requests the following action to rectify the damage caused by the Billboard:

a) the immediate removal of all copies of the image displayed on the Billboard from public display, including from all outdoor advertising, websites and publications;

b) a written statement from the South Australian Government published on the South Australian Premier’s website and the website to rectify the breach of the Guidelines, including an acknowledgment of the removal of the Billboard image and an acknowledgement that there is no evidence that suggests a causal connection between playing games, including simulated gambling games, and gambling;

c) written confirmation of the completion of both a) and b); and

d) the South Australian Government’s reassurance that such inaccurate and unsubstantiated claims will not be repeated.

We expect a timely response to this matter before close of business Friday 20 December 2013.

It’s a powerful response to a powerfully stupid advertising campaign. A comprehensive dismantling of what was essentially a fear-mongering campaign designed to strike fear into the hearts of uninformed parents across South Australia. We commend the IGEA for taking such swift, decisive action.

The letter in full is set to appear on the IGEA’s website soon. We’ll update the story with a link when it becomes available.

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