A recent study by Warwick University, which claims that the When the Fun stops, Stop campaign was not doing what it was intended to do, but was instead achieving the exact opposite of the desired results has seen some push back from one of the original creators of the campaign. According to the architect, the study was biased and conducted unfairly, while also being incredibly flawed so that there was no way that the conclusions of the study could have been taken as correct. This has been prompted by certain parties in the UK latching onto the report by Warwick researchers to continue bashing the campaign for not doing enough, or anything at all.
The past weekend was marked by a number of UK media outlets and television personalities releasing the news of the study and then continuing to happily demolish everything that the campaign has been trying to achieve. The University of Warwick study was done on how effective the When the Fun stops, stop campaign is on inspiring responsibility among problem gamblers. The study involved 506 participants who were all shown certain messages on the subject of problem gambling, some of them fake, while others were real, including the WTFSS (When the fun stops, stop) campaign, while others had no label at all. The participants of the study were all given 9 ten pence bonuses and given the chance to place wagers on certain football games, which they could choose to do or not to do. All of the participants of the study have had online gambling experience in the past. The study concluded that the subjects of the study chose to place wagers 37.8% of the time if they were not shown the responsible gambling label, while those who were shown the label chose to gamble 41.3%% of the time.
The researchers did, in the end, conclude that there was no significant difference between the times, but they also noted that the WTFSS label did not end up doing the job it was supposed to do at all. Instead, the level of irresponsible gaming was pretty much the same and marginally even higher among those who had seen the label as compared to those who had not seen the label. One of the reasons for the marginal difference, according to them, is the fact that the word Fun is significantly larger and more flashy than the rest of the words in the label. This, they believe, might be causing some issues with the campaign.
Ollie Gilmore, one of the original creators of the campaign and a strategy director at The Corner creative agency in London disagrees with the claims entirely. She wrote an op-ed to Campiang Live which spoke about how flawed the study was and how the conclusions were thus invalid.
She started off by talking about mobile casino gaming and online casino gaming clients being very different from the people in the study. Specifically, she talked about how 10p is not at all a significant enough amount of money for gamblers to believe they might be crossing the line. Especially considering that the 10p they were using to bet was not even money that belonged to them, but instead was money that was given to them for free. She believes that this was the very first mistake that caused the study to be as far away from the real world results as possible.
She continued to talk about how the issues with the size of the word Fun were unfair. She said that the study used an old version of the label, where the word was significantly larger, and also did not include the references to Gamble Aware and 18+ restrictions that are not part of the label. She continued to say that the goal of the campaign was never to stop people from gambling, but rather to prevent them from starting problem gambling that would be detrimental to their finances and health.
Gilmore continued to talk about the internal studies that the company has been conducting. According to her, a third of all of the regular gamblers had mentioned that the campaign label had made them reconsider the continuation of gambling after a certain while. She believes that this is evidence enough that the campaign does work, and that the Warwick study is flawed. Her conclusion was that, while any campaign stands to improve, one as important as this should only be considered for improvement after careful consideration and objective research. Headlines should not dictate social campaigns, according to her.