An Analysis of Media Representation of the Australian Electronic Gaming Machine Industry
Marketers of legal but potentially harmful products face a number of challenges. This paper examines the influence of media on the legitimacy of the electronic gaming machine (EGM) industry, and focuses on the largely negative portrayal of EGMs in Australia. Academic literature on gambling focuses overwhelmingly on problem gambling. EGMs have been accused as being the most addictive type of gambling. However, statistical evidence suggests that most persons who play EGMs do not in fact become addicted to them. The media are generally expected to present both sides of an issue. In reality, however, competing ideologies influence the stance various newspapers take. An initial content analysis of 343 newspaper articles from three major Australian newspapers was undertaken. Further analysis of a "representative slice" of a media article using discourse analysis adds weight to the negative portrayal towards EGMs by the media using "framing." This lack of balance in the Australian media is at odds with the historical social acceptance of gambling, thereby creating bias and causing somewhat of a conundrum for marketing managers in this industry. Furthermore, all external advertising of EGMs is now banned in Australia, making it extremely difficult for marketing managers to develop effective promotional messages to counter negative media coverage. We recommend that government take a leading role for open and transparent dialogue to make its democratic voice heard. We also argue it could be done through research, independent panels and other suitable means.