Monday, February 2, 2009

Hey Fitzy! Not all Gamblers are Losers

I am a regular reader of The Fitz Files by Peter FitzSimons in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald. It is a cracker read and always filled with interesting stories and round-ups.

However last Saturday I was left confused, and slightly pissed off, by a rant that he opened with entitled "Punter born every minute". You can read it here. I really encourage you to take a minute to read it as it provides important context to what I am about to write and it isn't very long.

Fitzy has so missed the mark by generalising about who sport gamblers are. For us marketers, if you generalise about a market in the same way then you should be embarrassed.

He rants that if we disagree with his assertion that anybody who gambles is a "loser" then we should "sit down and shut up". Show some manners Fitzy, you are being ignorant.

Let's examine this a little more. Before that, some disclosure. I like a punt. Sometimes it is footy, sometimes it is horses and sometimes I go crazy wild and put it on a multi-bet (woo hoo watch out!). I follow two golden rules. 1 - Never bet more than I can afford to lose and 2) I never gamble to make up for my losses.

Sure there are problem gamblers in Australia but to imply that the majority of gamblers are throwing away their mortgage, grocery or rent money is just ignorant. To flat out tell me that I don't care to acknowledge that I am pissing my money up against the wall is just dumb. I know a lot of people who punt like I do and all quite happily service their mortgages and feed themselves and their families. Fine upstanding members of the community and not a "loser" as Fitzy so eloquently portrays.

Consider this. Have you ever been to the movies? We'll you just pissed your money up against the wall! "No I didn't, I paid to be entertained by a movie" I hear you say. Aaah, now we are getting somewhere.

You see, part of the problem lies in the product and the tribalism that footy promotes. The fact is that not very many people at all, outside of their own supporters, really cares about the product of a Sunday afternoon game on TV between, for example, the Raiders and Bulldogs. But guess what? Throw $10 on the game and suddenly you are riding every tackle, bust and kick! It actually makes what was a very boring product suddenly 1000 times more exciting. And you might just win a few bucks. In contrast, have you ever won money by being entertained at the movies?

Or have you ever been to a game? Sure the atmosphere might be better but are you pissing your money up against the wall because you could have watched it for free at home or through the Fox subscription that you have already paid for? Not at all, you go because the excitement of a game is better than watching it at home. Being their makes the offering better. That's what having a punt on the footy is like - it enhances the offering.

I mean let's face it, crowd figures at League games are embarrassing and one of the major reasons is the price of tickets - particularly to take a family and maybe feed them while they are there (don't even think about on of those $8 bourbon and cokes!). While I agree with Fitzy that in the long run nearly every gambler will lose money, he loses sight of the fact that many people gamble not just because of the chance to win a few bucks but because it increases the value of the product - it makes it more interesting for the consumer.

Maybe the focus should be put on the administrators to deliver a product that the public sees greater value in and which will bring back crowd figures to League games. Maybe then they will get more of the supporters money through gate receipts than having to chase their money through gambling operations.

PS - I still love The Fitz Files and will read it as soon as I finish Carlos' sports crossword.


Nathan Bush said...

Spot on! I have had this argument plenty of times justifying the punt. It is definitely classed as 'entertainment' not 'investment'. However, I resent your Raiders comment. Raiders are the most exciting football team on the planet - never bet against them.

Anonymous said...

You're just another addicted gambler Oyster. Fitzy must have hit a raw nerve.