New FanDuel Casino Marketing Materials Raise Responsible Gambling Concerns

Written By Derek Helling on December 1, 2022 - Last Updated on December 5, 2022
mischief fanduel casino advertising no fixed

PlayUSA reached out to FanDuel for comment prior to publishing and will update this article should FanDuel or Mischief @ No Fixed Address provide such commentary.

Wow.

That’s the primary response by many in the online gambling industry upon first viewing of new FanDuel Casino advertising produced by marketing firm Mischief @ No Fixed Address. Unfortunately for that agency, the connotation of the expression is negative.

The theme of the marketing materials, that winning while gambling produces an emotional high, is factual in many cases. However, it’s that exact aspect that is massively problematic for people who struggle with compulsive gambling behavior.

FanDuel Casino advertising sells the winning feeling

David Gianatasio of Muse by Clio compiled some of the recently released marketing materials for FanDuel Casino. Included in them are a couple of video ads and some physical materials that tout how good it feels to win while gambling.

Gianatasio also spoke to a couple of the people behind the campaign at both FanDuel and Mischief @ No Fixed Address. Their comments reveal the thought process driving the promotion strategy. Mischief @ No Fixed Address partner Kevin Mulroy had the following to say:

“The core insight we landed on is not that winning is awesome—because that’s not exactly a revelation—but that the feeling of winning beats everything. And from that insight, we went one level deeper: Even feeling like you might win feels like a win. We’re not saying you’re going to win so much you better make space in your driveway for the Brinks truck. We’re saying the feeling of winning fires the same endorphins in your brain, whether it’s five bucks or five grand.”

FanDuel Brand VP Daniele Philips also chimed in on the new materials, adding:

“One of the objectives was to elevate advertising in this category, which is often shouty and offer-driven. To really craft adverts that are emotionally driven first and foremost, without needing to lean on a celebrity. Now that’s a bit different, isn’t it?”

Mischief @ No Fixed Address and FanDuel began their relationship in July with the aim of differentiating its online casino products. This campaign might be bold but it also ignores the science behind problem gambling.

The science of gambling addiction

The same emotional high of winning that both Mulroy and Philips refer to is exactly what plagues people who struggle with pathological gambling. As Mulroy alludes to, the release of chemicals in the brain associated with gambling experiences drives gambling addiction.

As Algamus Gambling Treatment points out, the chemical associated with the “winner’s high” is dopamine. Algamus states:

“For some people, this can culminate in a substance use addiction and for others, it can result in other compulsive behavioral addictions, such as compulsive gambling.”

“Gambling triggers the brain’s reward system which are [sic] linked primarily to the pleasure and motivation centers and releases dopamine into the body.”

The Gateway Foundation concurs with Algamus’ statements in this regard. It also builds on the concept and explains how gambling addiction actually becomes a neurological issue.

“However, as someone gambles more and more, their brain begins to build up a tolerance for the dopamine released by gambling. Over time, the brain’s reward system gets overused, and betting the exact amounts does not produce the rush of good feelings that it once did. When the brain’s reward system is blunted, those craving more dopamine must take bigger and bigger risks to achieve the same high.”

One of the most prominent studies on the connection between gambling and the triggering of the brain’s reward system came out of the National Library of Medicine in 2020. That study looked at how manipulating dopamine levels in participants’ blood affected their gambling decisions. In short, the more dopamine that was present, the greater the risk of the choices that the study participants made.

Mischief @ No Fixed Address has created a new campaign for FanDuel Casino that directly calls out this aspect of the gambling experience. That’s problematic for more than just the current population of people who struggle with compulsive gambling.

Why this marketing focus is dangerous for players

With this campaign, FanDuel has gone far beyond the pale of simply reminding players that it exists and that they can choose to spend some of their entertainment budgets on its games. The message behind the material is, “Do you want to feel good? Winning at gambling can make you feel good!”

With perhaps the exception of gambling to make a profit, gambling to experience an emotional high is the worst possible motivation to play. Marketing a casino using that specific theme isn’t just irresponsible. It’s predatory.

Given the odds of winning particular FanDuel Casino games, achieving that winning feeling Mischief @ No Fixed Address touts will likely take some pursuit. That sets in motion the exact sequence of events that the Gateway Foundation discussed.

Make no mistake, FanDuel Casino like all other online casinos is not in the business of giving away money. It is a for-profit entity and it makes that profit by convincing you to hand over your money.

The responsible way to do that is to remove your emotions from your decisions as much as possible. Hallmarks of responsible play include seeing gambling as an entertainment expense, knowing and considering the odds before playing, setting a budget for your play, and fully expecting to lose.

It’s difficult to do any of those things when you’re on a dopamine high. Yet, that’s the state this material suggests is ideal. For those concerned with the promotion of responsible gambling and the protection of people with pathological gambling issues, it’s pure Mischief.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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