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An Analysis of Media Representation of the Australian Electronic Gaming Machine Industry

June St Clair Buchanan, Michael L. Jones, Ken Tann

Abstract


Marketers of legal but potentially harmful products face a number of challenges. This paper examines the influence of media on the legitimacy of the electronic gaming machine (EGM) industry, and focuses on the largely negative portrayal of EGMs in Australia. Academic literature on gambling focuses overwhelmingly on problem gambling. EGMs have been accused as being the most addictive type of gambling. However, statistical evidence suggests that most persons who play EGMs do not in fact become addicted to them. The media are generally expected to present both sides of an issue. In reality, however, competing ideologies influence the stance various newspapers take. An initial content analysis of 343 newspaper articles from three major Australian newspapers was undertaken. Further analysis of a “representative slice” of a media article using discourse analysis adds weight to the negative portrayal towards EGMs by the media using “framing.” This lack of balance in the Australian media is at odds with the historical social acceptance of gambling, thereby creating bias and causing somewhat of a conundrum for marketing managers in this industry. Furthermore, all external advertising of EGMs is now banned in Australia, making it extremely difficult for marketing managers to develop effective promotional messages to counter negative media coverage. We recommend that government take a leading role for open and transparent dialogue to make its democratic voice heard. We also argue it could be done through research, independent panels and other suitable means.

Les spécialistes du marketing de produits légaux, mais potentiellement dangereux, sont confrontés à un certain nombre de défis. Cet article analyse l’influence des médias sur la légitimité des appareils de jeu électronique et porte sur la représentation largement négative de ce secteur en Australie. La littérature universitaire sur le jeu se concentre essentiellement sur la dépendance au jeu. Les appareils de jeu électronique ont été pointés comme le type de jeu le plus addictif, mais les statistiques démontrent que la plupart des personnes qui jouent avec ces appareils ne deviennent pas dépendantes. On s’attend généralement à ce que les médias présentent les deux facettes d’un problème. Dans la réalité, cependant, les idéologies concurrentes influencent la position prise par les différents journaux. Une première analyse de contenu de 343 articles de trois grands journaux australiens a ainsi été entreprise. Un examen approfondi d’une « tranche représentative » d’un article à l’aide de l’analyse du discours renforce le portrait négatif des appareils que font les médias par le « cadrage ». Ce déséquilibre dans les médias australiens est en contradiction avec l’acceptation sociale historique du jeu, créant ainsi un parti pris et posant ainsi un véritable casse-tête aux directeurs du marketing dans ce secteur d’activité. De plus, toute publicité externe des appareils de jeu électronique est maintenant interdite en Australie, ce qui rend extrêmement difficile, pour les directeurs du marketing, de concevoir des messages promotionnels efficaces pour contrebalancer la couverture médiatique négative. Nous recommandons donc au gouvernement de jouer un rôle de chef de file afin de créer un dialogue ouvert et transparent par l’entremise de recherches, de groupes d’experts indépendants et d’autres outils adaptés pour la communauté dans son ensemble et de faire entendre sa voix démocratique (et celle d’autres parties prenantes comme les acteurs de ce secteur d’activité). 


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4309/jgi.v0i36.3979

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