The casino industry faces plenty of unique challenges when it comes to marketing and advertising. We know, of course, that the sector faces plenty of regulatory hurdles when creating an advert, particularly in the UK. Marketers will have rules about when, where and how they can advertise. All of that is fair enough, and most observers would agree that sticking to the rules and promoting casino play responsibly is the best way forward.

However, there are areas where casinos could possibly do a better job of promoting their wares. And one area that springs to mind is with the jackpot games. These games have a self-explanatory appeal – huge prizes. But do casinos really do a good job of selling that appeal? And if not, then why not? Let’s break it all down and see if we can come up with an answer.

First of all, let’s take a quick look at what we mean by jackpot games. In theory, every casino game has a jackpot – i.e., the top prize. But in this case, jackpot is a byword for something more specific: online progressive jackpots with huge prizes. Most experienced casino players know what a progressive jackpot constitutes. But the layman arguably doesn’t, and that’s a fall down in marketing terms.

Progressive jackpots rival national lotteries

A progressive jackpot is a prize that is ever-growing. It is funded by taking a small percentage from every wager on the game. The jackpot slots at a modern online casino can reach millions of pounds in prize money. Some popular jackpot games, including Mega Moolah (Microgaming), Jackpot Giant (Playtech) and Mega Fortune (NetEnt), would often challenge the National Lottery in terms of how large the grand prize is. But, as mentioned, the average person with no interest in casino games probably wouldn’t know that.

So, why don’t casinos run an advert letting potential customers know that the Mega Moolah Jackpot is worth over £10 million? After all, the National Lottery does it all the time, letting players know about rollovers and special big prize draws.

The first hurdle, you would gather, is regulatory. Guidelines handed down by the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission) and the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) tend to prohibit casinos from focusing too much on the prizes that you can win, certainly in terms of the detail, meaning casinos usually emphasise the experience of playing. Gaming operators also enforce their own rules through the Betting and Gaming Council – a group of gaming companies that self-regulate to ensure responsible advertising within the industry.

Games can pay the top prize at any moment

Another obstacle is a little more logistical. A progressive jackpot award is triggered randomly, and nobody knows when that will happen. You could, therefore, make an expensive marketing campaign showing that a specific game now has a jackpot exceeding £20 million, only for the jackpot to have been won by the time the advert is ready to go live. When a progressive jackpot is won, it resets to a base amount and then starts slowly building up again.

This all leads to advertising that is less targeted and a bit vague on the details. So, where do players find out about the big prizes on offer? The casinos will provide information on their websites as a matter of course. There is also a word-of-mouth buzz that can move around social media and gaming forums. In addition, there are some websites dedicated to tracking the size and scope of progressive jackpot games, providing live information to players.

But all of that veers towards informing experienced casino players who already have an interest in progressive jackpot games. Whether it’s external or self-regulation, companies hands are tied for the big advertising campaigns. You can argue that it’s a good thing in terms of promoting responsible gambling, but it might also leave potential customers ill-informed about what exactly is on offer. The progressive prizes can be huge, yet it seems to be a secret only known to those who already play online casino games.