Hey gambling company, get your grubby mitts off skiing
The swirling winds and desolate snowscape immediately capture a mood.
A lone skier with alpine touring bindings purposefully cuts through the white room.
Bearded and backpacked his head is bowed, seemingly at one with his environs.
Then he grasps his smart phone and places a bet.
Online gaming company Bet365’s latest international foray into bending our minds so we’ll part with our paypacket is built around the premise of ‘wherever you are, you can bet on sport’. This particular ad features in Australia, Sweden and Denmark. Likely elsewhere too.
I get the concept.
But Bet365, don’t you get that people go skiing in the backcountry to get away from shit just like this?
Do your ad account execs actually know many people who plan their weekend mission in the French Alps, Colorado Rockies or Snowy Mountains of Australia and then say ‘Oh hey Steve, I hope we have consistent 4G coverage out there because I may get a sudden compunction to gamble next week’s wages on a cheeky all-up with Manchester United, San Antonio and Stan Wawrinka’.
They wouldn’t because they don’t.
In fact team Bet365, you may be surprised to know that people who plan these kind of jaunts often aren’t all that pleased in handing over their money to resorts – let alone betting companies.
For the record I don’t hate the player and I don’t necessarily even hate the game. Well, at least I never used to. It’s more that I hate what sports betting has been allowed to become.
I enjoyed the occasional bet. I even wrote and edited stories for a third party that ultimately appeared in a betting publication. At the time it didn’t bother me hugely. But over the last five years I have seen sports betting companies wrap their slimy tentacles over most sports I care for and make ‘the odds’ and gambling a normal part of seemingly any conversation involving sport.
I’m tired of watching football games of various incarnations with sports betting gurus generously offering me deals (which are invariably restricted or have conditions anyway) and then telling me earnestly to “gamble responsibly”.
(To wit: Bet365 in Australia was earlier this year fined $2.75 million for misleading punters with a free bets promotion that failed to properly disclose they had to bet $200 of their own money first. The judge labeled it “a web of deception”.)
I’m tired of hearing it via the radio on sports programs.
I am tired seeing gambling online, in newspapers, on pop-up ads – ad nauseaum.
I am tired of sporting bodies putting in place all kinds of codes of conduct for players and even journalists so they can’t bet due to ‘integrity issues’ – but happily then take your advertising and sponsorship dollars hand over fist and then wonder why things like this and this tend to happen.
I am tired of hearing about how punters who have some kind of system are cut off because they are winning.
I am tired of hearing stories about problem gambling.
I am angry that you have associated a past time I love with a past time I have grown to hate.
While I’m sure you can slap money on professional alpine skiing and numerous other winter sports if you want, the last thing I thought I’d see in a betting ad was a backcountry skier.
Watching the ad through to its conclusion, flashing past beaches at twilight, city skylines, heaving sports stadiums – our backcountry skier returns.
It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment but in the background this time there’s a helicopter. It seems incongruous that it’s there for a man earning his turns with alpine bindings and I assume skins. Is the subliminal message that these are the kind of rewards on offer when you become a gambler with Bet365?
My suggestion is if you want to go heli-skiing, save up your coins to do so and don’t bother filtering them through an online gambling company. Or you can just skip the helicopter altogether.
My suggestion for Bet365 is a little more blunt. Piss off and leave skiing alone.