TV Gambling Adverts Normalizing Gambling to 80% of British Children

April 16, 2019 Updated: April 16, 2019

Recent research has shown that a staggering 8 in 10 children (aged from as young as eight years old) had stated that they had seen and remembered TV gambling adverts. This is despite gambling brands being under strong regulation preventing them from targeting minors on the web through advertisement campaigns. We provide more information about the study carried out and how the Advertising Standards Authority are looking to overcome this.

Who took part?

99 children (71 of which were aged between eight and eleven, whilst the remaining children were between twelve and sixteen years old) took part in the study in South London. The study also involved a total of 71 parents and legal guardians too. In terms of breaking down the results from the research regarding gambling campaigns on TV, the survey also revealed that:

  • 50% of the children questioned said they had seen bookmakers’ campaigns via a computer or a smartphone. This was the same proportion of adults who said they had seen these gambling adverts
  • One-third of the children involved in the study was successfully able to match three or more gambling brands to the football club that sponsored them.

This data is alarming given that there are very strict age restrictions for gambling in the UK that any participant must be at least 18 years of age. Exposure to gambling from a young age has the effect to ‘normalize’ the activity and encourage underage gambling too. Meanwhile, young people and children in particular are more likely to be attracted to the bright lights associated for gambling advertising.

Expose by the ASA

Gaming firms have also come under fire recently by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for advertising gambling to children on the web. The advertising watchdog went undercover, using fake online avatars that mirrored the browsing habits of minors as a way of trying to uncover the kinds of ads children are seeing when they are surfing on the web. The ASA’s research revealed that the avatars encountered over 23 gambling ads which appeared 151 times, across 11 websites aimed at children. This was in just a two-week testing period and is particularly alarming given that online casinos make up 50% of overall gross casino revenue.

What happens next?

Gambling researchers have been urging authorities to implement a crackdown on gambling advertisement campaigns, given the way in which this survey and others have shown how betting has been normalized in sport through ads.

Anti-gambling campaigners are hoping that stricter regulations will be enforced to ensure that vulnerable customers, such as children are better protected against gambling advertising. They also want to see greater awareness raised of the nature of gambling and the associated risks of it, as well as more knowledge as to where people can go for help and advice if they believe they may have a problem with gambling.

The ASA has also stated that it will continue to use technology the mirror browsing by age group as a way of taking illegal internet gambling advertising, in order to crack down on companies who flout regulations on gambling practices.