Sometimes I listen to sports radio on the way to the fitness club. One morning, a woman’s sultry voice swirled out of the radio so seductively that I had to do a double take. What? Sex on the radio? After listening closely, though, I discovered she was talking about gambling at a particular casino. In an obvious attempt to arouse the listeners, she spoke about the thrill of gambling, about how ‘your’ fate depends on the roll of the dice, or the deal of a card, how at any second everything will change (it’s implied that your life will be better) because of the outcome. When she’s done, and I thought I heard he light her cigarette, a male voice says quickly, “Gambling problem? Call…”
I thought about that for a minute. Call? Really? I mean who’s going to call? I imagine the only caller will be someone who doesn’t have the means to get to a casino and relieve themselves or someone else who just lost their paycheck at the roulette table and realized they ruined their life for the foreseeable future. When someone gets aroused, it’s already too late. What would we think of such ads if they were really sexual and meant to bring customers to a strip club? “Masturbation problem? Call…” After arousal, it’s too late.
Years ago, I worked with sex offenders. Such people experience daydream like thoughts that progress from self-arousal to action. We called those thoughts deviant chains. Therapy consisted of discovering the components of those chains and teaching the person how to break them before they got aroused or at least before they acted. That gambling commercial was good example of what a deviant chain is.
That kind of therapy works for addictions too. While I’m certainly not saying that gamblers are sex offenders, gambling is an addiction. And I don’t believe that all gamblers are addicts. I believe that our fates are ultimately the result of our own decisions no matter how or by who we are seduced. People can’t change or improve themselves unless they chose to. Period.
However, here’s my point. Is it right to tempt addicts? To intentionally do something that may very well ruin someone else? I’m not saying get rid of the casinos or alcohol or drugs or cigarettes, though that’s not a bad idea. What I’m saying that we shouldn’t tempt others to destroy themselves.
And this seems common sense to me. If the ad has “Such and such problem? Call…” in it because of the nature of the product, in my opinion it’s not fit for broadcast.