The media can help police igaming, but stick to the real issues.

Showgirls at G2E Las vegasWith G2E Las Vegas and the accompanying showgirls just around the corner I was reminded about the furore over the London show this year.

I thought I’d weigh in with my opinion on the igaming promo girl debate here so I don’t have to discuss it endlessly at the next conference. I can simply text them a link to this blog and walk away in search of someone who wants to talk about igaming, the latest slots, or Everton.

The past couple of years have been tough for igaming in the media, sometimes warranted but sometimes little more than printed clickbait.

There are obviously, and unfortunately, some operators and providers who really don’t help the cause.

It must have felt like manna from heaven for the journalists at this year’s ICE show for example when, at the height of the media storm, one of the most prominent gaming stands was designed to resemble a fetish club.

What were they thinking?

Endorphina stand ICEGirls in fishnets and basques spinning a wheel of fortune with such gaming related prizes as fluffy handcuffs and rubber dildos is beyond fuelling the fire. The reporters must have been delighted, it’s not easy to get headlines on the Guardian and Daily Mail from an event like this but that sealed it.

It would be difficult to generate more column inches for a trade event short of dispatching a group of coked-up Monsanto execs armed with Nerf guns full of Agent Orange to the Organic Farming Show.

That stand was just pure bad taste. Worse it was patronising. Patronising to women, yes, but patronising to men too, do they really think men are so shallow as to be turned on by the sight of a woman waving a rubber dildo around under blazing oppressively bright strip lighting (oooer missus) in an overcrowded overheated convention hall on a bleak early-February afternoon? Now that is rude.

The stand drew mixed reactions, on the whole it elicited raised eyebrows and bemused or pitying passing glances.

There’s always one (or five).

There were a few (a very few) portly middle aged men in ill-fitting suits staring and smirking like schoolboys at the sixth form hockey team.

You know the type, they’ve managed to find a reasonably priced two-piece suit that stretches across their bellies straight off the peg and seem oblivious to the fact that the trousers bunch up for 6 inches over their cheap black shoes. and the shoulders and arms make them look like Orangutans because the suit was intended for a broad-shouldered man of 6′ 3 not a pot-bellied 5′ 6.

dollar suit at ICE London

This one’s a bit classier.

One particular group of five middle aged style icons showing more than a passing interest in the dildo girls included America’s Timmy Mallet, (he’d no doubt be known as Timothy P Mallet Jr esq.), resplendent in a suit covered in dollar symbols. Unlike our Timmy this chap didn’t appear to be doing it ironically.

That suit enraged me in that setting (ordinarily it would incite a kind of mildly-annoyed pity I’m sure) , I shudder to think what The Guardian’s Rob Davies would have made of it, although it might have been a hit with the Daily Mail.

Both the Daily Mail and the Guardian gave this front page and op ed coverage at the time.

The Guardian piece was as balanced as it could be and still remain newsworthy to be fair and their igaming coverage is consistently good.

Much more than an article..

The Daily Mail article was predictably more sensationalist, hypocritical, and began with their favorite headline opener “Outrage”.

Actually it wasn’t just an article it was a ‘Special Investigation’ by two of their journalists. They went deep undercover to enter the murky world of London’s Excel and managed to find not only promo girls but some stands giving away free drinks!
Actually they didn’t even manage to find the free drinks but, (and this was worthy of a sub-heading on the article:

  • One attendee said the event often involved ‘wall-to-wall alcohol’ with free drink! 

They were cruelly denied The Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting 2018 by the hacks at The Washington Post.
Those fancy schmancy judges chose a simple story exposing the sexual harassment of teenage girls by a senator over a hard-hitting piece about birds in bikinis and free booze.

Backfired a bit..

It’s worth a look at the comments on the Daily Mail piece as it was completely out of sync with their readership (shocker). Not often you hear the Daily Mail described as the ‘equality brigade’ is it?

“It’s what happens at these saddo events. Why is the equality brigade trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill?”

“Men being manipulated by female sexuality, outrageous, won’t someone please think of the children”

“I better hurry on down to see it then.”

Top Rated comment on The Mail article…

If you’re a prude stay indoors whilst the rest of us can enjoy our lives without you butting in. These girls work for a living, please don’t make them lose their jobs with your pathetic Feminist hatred.’

On the same day another gaming provider had to backtrack quickly on their plans for a big show surrounding their release of their new Playboy-themed game.

Playboy…

When was the last time a national newspaper was outraged about Playboy enough to give it an Editorial? 1960 in the Salt Lake City Gazette perhaps. We need perspective.

Outraged of Tunbridge Wells.

To be fair the sexual contortionist (yes, I know) and the dildo stand generated a third response, and it was… Outrage!

At least on the face of it, it was actually faux-outrage.

In fact one of the most outraged and vocal opponents of this sexist display was spotted in Shoreditch at an industry event that night with her male colleagues, at Brown’s, a strip club.

The phrase ‘Do as I say not as I do’ exists for a reason, and you can’t underestimate the good a little bit of LinkedIn ‘outrage’ can do for your career and speaking opportunities.

They are selling a product.

I don’t think that any right-minded person can sanction rubber dildos and sexual contortionists being used to sell fruit machines.

My opposition doesn’t come from a position of feminist disgust at ‘promotion girls’ though.

There are valid arguments on both sides for that. The ideological stance that it’s demeaning to women as a whole for these girls to dress sexily for men and in order to sell a product is raging against something that’s been pervasive in human society since the birth of man (and woman!).

The counter that the girls are in no danger, are earning good money and are not being forced into this is also true,  I can’t acknowledge the stance that working as a promotion girl is akin to working as a prostitute which has been said often. The former contains a large group of women who are seeing themselves through college and earning decent wages doing a job that suits their situation. Crucially they are selling a product, and that product, in their case, is not themselves.

The latter has a fair percentage of women in desperate situations, frequently feeding drug habits and pimps, who are victims of a broken society, often from broken homes and with broken minds. I don’t think attractiveness, perfect skin and bright eyes is a prerequisite for this group either as it is for the promo girls.

I’m being selfish.

My opposition is a selfish one as it is driven primarily by the fact that our industry is still populated by some marketing people who think this kind of display will, in the majority of men, engender anything but a mixture of contempt (for the company) and cringing.

IMy opinion definitely reflects the majority on this, certainly among my British and Scandinavian peers.

I also feel aggrieved that it is this aspect of the gaming industry being highlighted and taking the front page when there are still deeper issues to address as well as a lot of solid self-policing to acknowledge.

It isn’t Zelda!

This one of the most highly regulated (and in the case of the big companies self regulating) industries ever.

Even the adoption of ‘gaming’ rather than gambling is an indicator of the industry’s sense of self-consciousness that doesn’t sit well with me. It’s gambling, for money, it’s not like playing Zelda.

I struggle with the massive proliferation of bookies on our high streets. Town centres of late are generally desolate places replaced by out of town retail complexes which are ever-so-handy for popping out in the car to.

Shops close down and move out, rents drop and they become pretty much the exclusive domain of the poor who can’t pop out in the car and need to walk or use the bus.

This town is coming like a ghost town.

With demand dictating the market we’re left with a concentration of cheap chain pubs, charity shops, vape shops and bookies. These are a symptom though not a cause, I know it’s stating the bloody obvious but society needs to address the bulk of the causes, not the pubs and bookies.

I don’t see much evidence of that happening, it’s probably a bit too much trouble, easier to keep upping the taxes and reducing the stakes to make is seem like the problems are being addressed… Even the Tories called FOBTs (fixed odds betting terminals, the machines you see in the bookies with roulette on them) ‘a social blight’ and I applaud the decision to reduce the maximum stakes on them.

In fact the majority of people I know in the industry at all levels applaud that. Publicly of course their executives have to be on the side of the shareholders.

Regulation is necessary, it’s pervasive and it’s welcome as long as it is properly and universally implemented.

We need consistent regulation.

Hampering the big public companies while allowing grey operators to flourish and take their business is a recipe for disaster. It’s natural for regulators and government to go after the low-hanging-fruit but it’s self-defeating and will only serve to make the rogue operators wealthier and more widespread.

Of course it isn’t easy. Far easier to lock up the market trader knocking out fake Gucci handbags than it is to get the Chinese government to help stop them being produced. It’s just putting a plaster on a gaping wound.

It’s fair to say that the UK media played a massive part in the FOBT legislation and in the focus from the UK Gaming Council generally and they should be lauded for that.

My plea to them is to keep concentrating on the truly harmful issues that deserve front page coverage. I’m not sure a few scantily-clad girls waving plastic dildos in public warrants it.

If it does, then get yourselves down to any airport bar on a Friday and look for the girl wearing L-plates and a veil, follow her and you’ll find the motherlode.

‘Sexy slots’!

Girls Prison game

You couldn’t make it up.

If you want something worthy of column inches you should take a look at these monstrosities headlined under the tagline:

“Are you really providing what your male dominated audience craves”

You’ll find slots with such unfathomable and disturbing themes as ‘Please r*pe Me” and ‘Slutty princess service’…

There can be few people in their right mind who aren’t genuinely outraged by the fact that they even exist.

I’m not going looking for these on an online casino site but there are dozens of these games so, sadly, there is a market somewhere. No doubt wherever it is they’ll have their proponents claiming ‘it’s just a bit of harmless fun’. I suppose it’s all a matter of degrees.

Let me know what you think in the comments it would be really interesting to hear your views.
Andy

P.S I managed to track down the dollar suit online, yours for $99! To be fair to the lad he had splashed out considerably more than his companions.

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