A Closer Look at the Michigan Ads

20 April 2000
The Michigan Department of Community Health has produced a series of anti-gambling television advertisements in an effort to protect Michigan citizens--particularly teenagers--from the dangers of gambling. Four of the six original spots, which hit the airways in late February, focus on Internet gambling.

Department Commissioner Jim McBryde says the ads are intended to promote the department's toll-free help line, and inform viewers that Internet gambling is illegal in Michigan.

The first crop of ads, which incidentally don't mention that Internet gambling is illegal in the state, warn against potential scams or rip-offs and feature teens gambling while using their parents' credit cards. Another series of ads, none mentioning e-gambling, are planned for later this year.

McBryde says the concentration on Net betting is a result of research garnered from several focus groups among teens. To the groups' surprise, a number of teenage boys indicated that not only were they aware of Internet gambling, but that they had already done so. Several teenage girls also were aware of e-gambling, but none admitted to actually playing. The department consequently shifted the scope of the first set of ads to emphasize the gambling on the Internet.

IGN obtained video tapes of the thirty-second ads, however, a request to air them online was denied. Nonetheless, here's how they went:


Setting: A teenage boy sitting in his bedroom, as two men in the background carry furniture out.

Boy: I thought I won thousands of dollars playing blackjack, shooting craps, on the slots.

(Flashback of boy playing his computer, and shouting "Hit me, baby!" and "Let it slide!")

Boy: I heard that gambling was fun, but I didn't know that it's a scam.

(Flashback of boy moaning and groaning while sitting in front of his computer.)

Boy: Like these guys off the coast of Madagascar give you money when they have your parents' credit card number. Yeah, right!

(Flashback of boy, "Yeah, not!")

Boy: Don't get taken. Don't! Don't gamble on the Internet!

(Problem gambling number flashes on screen.)



("Stories from the Street" shows on the screen.)

Setting: Night scene shows a number of obviously homeless people gathered around fire burning in metal barrel.

Homeless Man #1: I lost my home... my wife...my kids to drugs. (Shakes his head and walks away.)

Homeless Man #2 and Woman #1: We lost our home, our kid's college fund, our retirement money... all because our son gambled on the Internet.

Homeless Boy: I said I was sorry!

Homeless Man #2: (Points at boy) Go to your box!

Announcer: Internet gambling: If you play, you pay.



Scene: It's nighttime in a nice home. The camera shows the home from the eyes of person stealthily walking through the home and upstairs. Eerie music plays in the background.

Announcer: Without ever knowing it, you may have let a stranger in your home. He's out to rob you and he's already got your credit card number, and guess who gave it to him?

Scene switches to a pajama-clad boy sitting at a computer. Reflections on the boy's glasses show numbers from a casino game rolling by.

Announcer: Internet gambling - If your kid plays, you pay!



Scene: The setting is an empty warehouse with a few people and computers in the background. A woman sashays to side of an older man leaning against an office desk.

Man: These kids in America! (laughs) They're easily scammed.

Woman: Easily scammed! (Chomps gum.)

Man: They don't realize gambling on the Internet is a racket.

Woman: Yeah, I love how easily they give us their parents' credit card numbers.

Second Man : Hey, Boss! Some kid from Kalamazoo just won a half million dollars playing jackpot. Do we give him the money?

First Man: (Makes derisive noise, then laughs.) What's he gonna do? Sue us?

(They all laugh.)

Announcer: Internet gambling: It's a scam. If you play, you pay.


Vicky Nolan joined the IGN staff in October 1999. She's best known for inventing fire, the wheel and swiss cheese. She can be reached at vicky@igamingnews.com.