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All in! The commercial advertising of offshore gambling on television

John L. McMullan, Delthia Miller


There is a paucity of research on the advertising of gambling, especially the intensely marketed Internet poker and blackjack games. This study examines ads that aired on cable television in one Canadian jurisdiction. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, we analyze 64 distinct commercials that aired 904 times over a 6-month period. Our findings show that these ads target audiences along age, gender, and ethnic lines and mobilize celebrities, excitement, and humour as persuasive techniques to promote the view that on-line gambling is an entertainment experience in which skill prevails over luck, winning dominates losing, fantasy overshadows reality, leisure trumps work, and the potential for personal change eclipses the routines of everyday life. We conclude that the e-gambling advertising assemblage, with its high-volume exposure, attractiveness, pervasiveness, and repetitiveness of messaging is now an embedded feature of everyday life that is especially connected to popular sport culture and to the fun ethic of contemporary consumer culture.


gambling; advertising; marketing; on-line poker; television; Canada

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