The findings of an academic study of young people and adults have been published in a report entitled “Recall and awareness of gambling advertising and sponsorship in sport in the UK” that has been published in the Harm Reduction Journal.
The report seems bound to provoke considerable further debate about whether more restrictive gambling advertising controls should be imposed, recommending, as it does, that: “in order to reduce the exposure of young people to gambling advertising, policymakers in the UK should consider comprehensive approaches, similar to those applied in tobacco control, which cover all forms of advertising, including promotion and sponsorship”.
The research was conducted between May and July 2018 with 71 family groups, comprised of 99 young people (8–16 years) and 71 adults recruited at six sites across South London, England. It was guided by the following five questions:
- To what extent do young people and adults recall sports betting brands?
- Are young people and adults able to implicitly recall sponsorship relationships between gambling brands and teams playing in the EPL?
- To what extent do young people and adults perceive gambling as a normal part of sport?
- Where, if anywhere, do young people and adults see gambling advertising?
- What changes, if any, do young people and adults want to see to the current regulation of gambling advertising?
The results of the research are summarised as follows:
- Just under half of young people (46%) and more than two thirds of adults (71%) were able, unprompted, to name at least one gambling brand.
- Boys had a significantly higher recall of brands than girls, as did young people who watched a lot of football on television.
- Almost two thirds of young people (63%) correctly placed one or more shirt sponsor magnets next to the corresponding football team, and 30% correctly placed three or more sponsors magnets next to the corresponding football team.
- Just under two thirds of adults (62%) correctly placed one or more shirt sponsors magnets next to the corresponding football team.
- Young people recalled seeing gambling advertising on television, technology/screens, and in association with sports teams.
- Adults recalled seeing advertising on television, on technology/screens, in sports stadiums, and in betting venues.
- Over three quarters of young people (78%) and 86% of adults thought that betting had become a normal part of sport.
The authors of the report (Natalie Djohari, Gavin Weston, Rebecca Cassidy, Martyn Wemyss and Samantha Thomas) conclude as follows:
Young people in the UK are exposed to gambling advertising via a range of media and through sponsorship and promotion as well as advertisements. While a partial ban on televised advertising during live sport has been widely suggested and supported in the UK, our data suggests that this single measure may not be sufficient to significantly reduce young people’s exposure to gambling advertising. Policymakers should consider comprehensive approaches, such as those applied in tobacco control, which take into consideration all forms of advertising, including promotion and sponsorship. Policymakers should also consider how recent changes in Australia have been more or less successful in reducing the exposure of young people to gambling advertising.
This latest report will no doubt be greeted warmly by the anti-gambling lobby but, as David Clifton commented in the annual GREF lecture (delivered by him during ICE week on 5 February 2019): “a great deal will turn on the forthcoming GambleAware research findings on the effects of marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable groups”.