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Machine Messaging Trial Leads The Way

The Bingo Association has been leading and supporting licensed club bingo operators in the area of social responsibility for several years.

Within the February 2015 license conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) the Gambling Commission has suggested that the Gambling Industry should work harder to improve messaging in the areas of play, product and general Social Responsibility messaging: whilst research into the land-based Bingo Industry by IPSOS MORI (2014) suggests that bingo customers experiencing a problem with their gambling were not always sure where to get help, despite the wide range of information available. 

In recent months The Bingo Association has been tackling the issue of messaging, by exploring improved socially responsible player communications on Gaming Machines that resonates with customers. Put bluntly, the aim is to move towards a style of messages that prompts self-awareness amongst customers without wagging a finger or lecturing them.

Research studies confirm responsible gambling messages currently in use are too technical and lack impact. Some have also been viewed as lacking in player empathy, failing to stand out and relevant only to the problem gambler. This was particularly evident in research conducted by Revealing Reality in March 2017 - Phase 1 ‘Emerging Findings and Next Steps’, which was a thorough exploration of gambling industry social responsibility messaging, from which three themes evolved: 

- Enabling the consumer to make an informed choice (cost of play labelling)
- Improving self-awareness (social messaging)
- Creating supporting environments (role and importance of responsible gambling staff training).

Armed with the IPSOS MORI and Revealing Reality research reports The Bingo Association set out to explore and improve social responsibility messaging on Gaming Machines in Bingo clubs in order to promote positive behaviour change and ensure players know where to go to get help. 

In September 2018, with the support of venue operators and machine manufacturers, an initial trial was held in the West Midlands, across 522 gaming machines in 22 bingo clubs and adult gaming centres (AGCs): three sets of messages, each consisting of three different messages, all displayed in a consistent design format were trialed.

The drafting of each individual message was informed by formal independent industry research. Examples of messages:


Keep control...  
Only spend what you can afford


Just a heads up....  
It’s good to set yourself limits


Stay in control....  
Set your limit




The messages were each run, as an animated poster/advert, in the promotional top boxes located on top of machines, interspersed with regular promotional messaging over a period of three weeks.  

Independent research organisation Chrysalis Research were asked to evaluate the impact and messaging with players at trial venues, assessing design, content and location. Although only 7% of customers said they recalled the messages, that figure increased substantially to 41% (approximately two-fifths), when prompted.

Chrysalis Research went on to confirm that when compared against other types of retail based messaging 7% is a credible figure. Generally customers responded by saying that the colours, clarity of message and simplicity of the format stood out. For some, the animated build drew their attention. "...all of a sudden this big bubble comes up with the writing inside...you know when something catches your eye and you automatically look". Female, aged 60+

Player responses to individual messages varied, with the majority feeling that they were appropriate to players, in that they made you think, while not being too bossy or patronising which was of course the original aim. Equally the location of the messaging, directly above machines, at approximately eye-level, was seen as helpful in attracting their attention. Of course, there were also things to learn: text size was too small, and some messages worked less well than others.

In summary, the initial findings, of what was a small pilot trial, have been positive enough to extend the trial to more sites, with BACTA joining The Bingo Association for the next phase in March this year.

January 2019 - First published in Bingo Life

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