This research project aimed to better understand the techniques and impact of lottery advertising in the Québec population according to certain socio-economic vulnerability criteria.
We also examined the issues relating to the concomitant presence of gambling promotion and gambling prevention messages in public spaces.
Lotteries are a tax on the poor, which plays a role in maintaining social and health inequalities.
This research allowed us to observe the diversity and omnipresence of lottery advertising to which the majority of the population is exposed, including minors and non-gamblers. All respondents reported that greater exposure to advertising leads to greater expenditure on lottery tickets. We also showed that advertising messages convey cognitive biases that influence attitudes and behavioural intentions.
Our survey revealed significant links between lottery advertising exposure, gambling behaviours, beliefs and certain indicators (education, income, and employment status). For example, individuals with less education have higher lottery participation and spending rates, and are also more likely to feel that lottery promotion is extremely or excessively present in their daily lives and that its quantity has increased in recent years. Less educated individuals with a low income are more likely to have had negative experiences related to their gambling habits. They are also more likely to believe the lottery to be an effective strategy for solving financial problems, and that the right gambling strategy can improve their chances of winning.
These results support the postulate that lotteries are a tax on the poor and that this issue plays a role in maintaining social and health inequalities. It raises questions about the adequacy of the preventive measures currently in place in Québec. Globally, the results lead to the following recommendation: gambling prevention in the public sphere should explicitly integrate the message that lotteries and other forms of gambling do not constitute a viable economic strategy, that gambling winnings are marginal and that the sums wagered are a tangible loss that contributes to perpetuating social deprivation. Legislative measures to regulate the quantity, placement and content of gambling marketing messages would be a promising preventive measure towards supportive environments for health.
Élisabeth Papineau, INSPQ
Deposit of the research report: July 2012