Segmenting the betting market in England

Chris Hand and Jaywant Singh

Kingston University

Introduction

In recent times, both the number of forms of betting and its visibility have multiplied. According to the UK Gambling Commission (2009), more than 1,500 million bets were placed in licensed betting shops in the UK in 2008 alone (equivalent to approximately 25 bets placed per head of population). The increase in the variety and visibility of betting can be attributed to both technological innovation, in particular online betting, and (in the UK) relaxation in regulation. The above growth in the betting industry has been accompanied by increased research interest in betting, and in particular in what has been termed ‘problem gambling’, which is largely viewed as an addiction. In addition to ‘treating’ gambling addicts, Adams et al. (2009) call for public policy to adopt a public health perspective (i.e. attempting to influence behaviour at the community level), rather than treating individuals. An alternative approach would be to adopt a social marketing perspective (e.g. Powell & Tapp 2009). Gordon and Moodie (2009) argue that the study of problem gambling, and of gambling/betting in general (the latter being the focus of this paper) has much to gain from adopting a marketing perspective. After all, betting involves transactions between individual gamblers (consumers) and firms (apart from private bets between individuals). Moodie and Hastings (2009) are more forthright, arguing that, as the growth of gambling has been largely driven by marketing activity, social marketers should keep ‘a critical eye on their commercial cousins’ (p. 693).