Responsible Gambling Council urges Ontarians to practice gambling ‘mindfulness’

Who: The Responsible Gambling Council, with Zulu Alpha Kilo for creative, Creasenso for digital imaging, Imprint Music for audio.

What: “Mindfulness Before Gambling,” an awareness campaign reminding the province’s gamblers that it’s important to have a plan in place prior to wagering. It uses the soothing look and feel of mindfulness apps as a delivery mechanism.

When & Where: Targeting Ontario residents 35-55, the campaign launched last month and runs until mid-February, with video ads on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and sports app theScore complemented by audio ads on Spotify. There is also a website at

Why: The campaign comes amid a marked uptick in online gambling during the pandemic, according to a recent report. Meanwhile, the June passage of Bill C-218 legalizing single-event wagering in Ontario is expected to create what has been described as a “flood” of legal betting options for sporting events.

A study of 5,003 Canadian gamblers found that only half would stop gambling if they felt intoxicated, while gamblers 18-24 were “significantly more likely” to endorse false gambling beliefs, such as expecting random outcomes to occur if they haven’t for a while (41.9%), gambling to make back losses(31.1%) and believing that certain patterns of betting have better chances of winning (50%).

“Our goal with this campaign was to build on the concept of having a plan to promote safer play,” said Elaine McDougall, the Responsible Gambling Council’s director of marketing and communications. “There are many different audiences to consider and contexts in which people gamble, and this series of mindfulness content helps RGC speak to them in an always-on way.”

How: Three 15-second video spots use the hallmarks of mindfulness apps, such as a soothing voiceover, combined with calming music and visuals, to address specific issues around gambling: Drinking or getting high prior to betting; the allure of betting on a big game, and feeling lucky simply because it’s a special occasion.

In each video, the voiceover provides a humorous reminder of the implications of such thoughts and actions. In the video warning of the dangers of consuming alcohol or drugs prior to betting, for example, it notes that it can cloud people’s judgement, leading them to possibly bet it all on a horse named “Lucky McFastPants.” In the video related to lucky feelings, it points out that all feelings are valid, except the one about feeling lucky because it’s a special occasion.

And we quote: “We challenged ourselves to make hard-working creative that not only stood out to someone who might not consider themselves a ‘gambler,’ but could also clearly deliver important lessons to those players,” said Zulu Alpha Kilo’s executive creative director, Brian Murray. “The idea of mindfulness gave us that space to play and accomplish both in an unexpected way.”

Chris Powell