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Gambling ads pose threat to young people’s wellbeing, report warns

27 March, 2020

Children are regularly exposed to gambling adverts, increasing the likelihood that they gamble in the future, a new report claims.

The Final Synthesis report, written by IPSOS Mori for GambleAware, found that young people are heavily exposed to gambling ads, especially through televised sporting events. The researchers reported that 42 per cent of 11 to 24-year-olds gamble.

Last year, the Advertising Standards Authority made it illegal for gambling companies to target advertising at under-18s. Even so, young people have a high level of gambling brand awareness, the researchers found, often due to ads during sport coverage.

Marc Etches, GambleAware’s CEO, said: “Gambling is an adult activity, but this new research conclusively shows that it has become part of everyday life for children and young people.

“This constant exposure through advertising and marketing or via close friends and family has the potential for serious long-term implications for children and young people.”

On social media an underage user can be detected through their account information, but it is much harder to limit young people’s exposure to gambling messaging on TV.

Spending on gambling ads rose 24 per cent between 2015 and 2018, with a corresponding rise in volume of ads and sponsorship.

The researchers acknowledged that it is hard to prove a causal link between advertising and young people’s gambling behaviour, but advertising unquestionably normalises gambling. Parent Zone’s own research shows that young people are also being encouraged to gamble via online games, through the use of loot boxes and skin gambling.

Children and young people will be spending more time inside and online during the COVID-19 crisis. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to more underage gambling, especially via video games, or less, thanks to fewer sporting events.

Image: AA+W/Adobe Stock


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