HomeInsightsNew research into gambling advertising and marketing reveals complex nature of exposure to gambling for children, young people and vulnerable individuals

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GambleAware has published an interim report, produced by Ipsos MORI, that examines the frequency and format of gambling advertising and marketing, and the exposure among children, young people and vulnerable adults.

The research was carried out by two consortia led by Ipsos MORI and the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling. The research is also part of the Gambling Commission’s research programme and forms a key part of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

The interim results found that between 2015-2018, the volume and spend on gambling marketing and advertising is on the rise across different forms of media, including TV and radio, with lotteries and bookmakers among the top spenders. Sports advertising was particularly dominant online, with exposure compounded further by sponsorship used within broadcasts of live events.

Children, young people and vulnerable individuals who took part in focus group discussions for the study highlighted the prevalence of gambling advertising on TV (including during the day), on social media, on the high street and at point of sales in shops. The emergence of new sectors such as eSports presents a new set of challenges in terms of managing exposure to gambling.

In addition to advertising and marketing, the researchers identified other factors contributing to the wide exposure of gambling within society, including the role of family and friends in introducing them to gambling. Many revealed they had experienced exposure to gambling activity from an early age in a range of settings.

Within the data captured, the research found no examples of gambling adverts being placed within children’s media, including the most popular children’s websites. However, researchers judged much of the content contained features, which might plausibly appeal directly to children and young people, including celebrity endorsement, memorable songs and catchphrases. Content which may appeal to children and young people was found in 11% of gambling adverts in the mainstream media; this was as high as 59% of eSports gambling content on Twitter, largely due to the use of animated style graphics.

Further, the research found that children are currently not being actively screened out from receiving online gambling adverts and are able to follow and engage with betting-related accounts on Twitter. The Gambling Commission says that this suggests that more could be done with existing technology to manage what children are exposed to.

Across the board, there was mixed levels of awareness and understanding of messages relating to risk or safer gambling among participants. The research also identified little evidence of prominent consumer protection messages, such as age warnings or promotion of lower-risk gambling. Therefore, the Commission says, more could be done to clearly highlight the risks of gambling within advertising and marketing.

In light of this, researchers found that some advertising may exploit the susceptibility, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young people or vulnerable adults. Over a fifth (22%) of mainstream media adverts were judged to contain features such as implied limited risk or inflated chances of winning; this rose to 37% on Twitter.

The final phase of the research and subsequent findings will focus more on the impact of gambling marketing and advertising and will be published later in 2019. To read the Commission’s news release in full and for a link to the interim report, click here.