Responsible Gambling Council spoofs betting ads to warn about online gambling addiction

Who: Responsible Gambling Council, with Zulu Alpha Kilo for strategy and creative, and The French Shop for French-language adaptation; Sparks Sparks Production Company for production (directed by Amit Mehta); with The Editorial Factory, Tantrum Studio, and Eggplant Music + Sound for post-production.

What: A new partnership with thinkTV Canada and its broadcast partners aimed at educating Ontario residents about the importance of minimizing risk when gambling online.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running until March 31 across donated TV and radio, with plans to expand its reach via organic social and a targeted paid media campaign. There’s also a dedicated website,, which features resources including a plan for gamers to follow before betting.

Why: The legalization of single-game wagering has led to a wave of campaigns from both domestic and international players, all glamourizing betting and featuring stars from the worlds of sports and entertainment such as Wayne Gretzky, former TSN personality Dan O’Toole, and comedians Gerry Dee and Jon Lovitz.

A recent study by Statistics Canada entitled “Who gambles and who experiences gambling problems in Canada,” found that more than 300,000 people are at “severe” or “moderate risk” for gambling-related problems.

How: The campaign features many of the tropes found in legalized wagering campaigns, including a charismatic spokesperson, stylized computer graphics and intense music. “Online betting is booming,” says the spokesperson as he emerges from the darkness and tosses a neon football into the air. “You can win big.”

As the spot continues, the music abruptly fades away as the spokesperson soberly informs viewers that they could also lose. “There is risk with online gambling, and that’s a reality nobody’s shouting about,” he says as the link to the website appears.

And we quote: “This is a time of immense change in the gambling industry and it’s important that Ontarians are getting a balanced perspective in the media. Our goal with this PSA is to ensure that anyone who participates in online gambling knows there is risk involved and how to practice safer play.” — Elaine McDougall, director of marketing and communications, Responsible Gambling Council

Chris Powell