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Anton Kuchukhidze: How does the war affect gambling advertising?

When the war began, illegal operators increased their advertising activities, thus casting a shadow over legal gambling. A new trend also appeared when numerous legal gambling operators started using different messengers, for instance, Telegram channels, where they could launch aggressive advertising campaigns. This tool is convenient since such messengers are basically not regulated by law or by the UGC Advertising Memorandum.

It is obvious to all gambling industry representatives that one can always find legal mechanisms and technical capabilities to avoid liability. In particular, this applies to gambling advertising. One can always take advantage of loose legal language and find loopholes in the law, etc.

It was exactly the situation in 2021 when the first gambling licenses were issued. Gambling operators intensified efforts to advertise their products and services, and powerful advertising campaigns began to appear like mushrooms after the rain, with huge impossible to avoid banners in central Kyiv and advertising slogans calling for the game. In this euphoria, everyone forgot to observe social responsibility principles.

When the Ukrainian Gambling Council conducted a legal review of these cases, everything turned out to be legally sound. However, from the point of view of morality and social responsibility, a tough advertising campaign does not always go well with the philosophy of the civilized gambling business.

Given the dynamics above in the gambling advertising industry, UGC has developed an Advertising Memorandum, allowing it to somewhat stabilize the situation. I cannot say that it was a 100% success, but at least the position of the signatories of this memorandum, UGC members, has improved. At the same time, such companies as Vulkan and SlotoKing, as well as those who have failed to receive a license to organize and conduct gambling, such as GGBet, raised their heads.

Considering the current situation, I would like to point out two crucial aspects.

First, it is not entirely reasonable when in multimillion Telegram publics, after a video report or photo about our military liberating our land or publications about the shelling of Ukrainian cities by rashists, the next post is calling to spin the wheel or play slots. It looks inadequate, and the target audience will not take such advertising seriously (there are many more negative reactions under such posts than “likes”).

Second, given the above, it is clear that an over-stimulating advertising policy, especially during the war, causes even greater aggression among the population, that is, brands stack cards against themselves and the industry. At this rate, we will never be able to form a positive opinion about gambling. Of course, one can use social networks and messengers, but these should be specialized or entertainment ones. One should not just chase statistics and coverage or create content demonstrating the company’s engagement in helping the AFU, IDPs, refugees, and the State as a whole. One should think about the emotional component of gambling advertising, and take into account the industry’s sensitive nature and the specifics of the times we live in.

That is why the next task for all gambling operators, the state regulator, and the Association must be the search for a common language. However, this is not the most important thing. I urge gambling operators to understand that there is only one truth, one social responsibility, as well as its standards. The key thing is that some do not want to take into account other market players, some have ambitions, and some go nuts. All these are relatable human qualities, but they hinder the creation of a civilized gambling market, including the advertising sector.

Thus, gambling operators need to use their heads and not just use any advertising opportunities but think about consequences for at least their brand, not to mention the industry as a whole. And I urge players to gamble responsibly and report illegal gambling advertising to the UGC hotline.

Anton Kuchukhidze, Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, exclusively for the Ukrainian News


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