Final report published on the effect of gambling marketing & advertising on children, young people & the vulnerable

In July 2019, we reported on publication by GambleAware of an “Interim Synthesis Report: The Effect of Gambling Marketing and Advertising on Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults” arising from research commissioned by it, led by Ipsos MORI (in partnership with the University of Bristol, the University of Edinburgh, Ebiquity, and the Centre for Analysis of Social Media at Demos).

GambleAware has now published the “Final Synthesis Report: The Effect of Gambling Marketing and Advertising on Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults”  –  written by Ipsos MORI on behalf of GambleAware – that you can download below together with:

Key messages arising from the report are:

  • Exposure to gambling advertising, including on social media, can have an impact on attitudes towards the prevalence and acceptability of gambling, and in turn the likelihood that a child, young person or vulnerable adult will gamble in the future.
  • The attitudes and gambling behaviours of peers and parents are critical in shaping gambling activity; they were significantly associated with both a young person’s exposure to brands and advertising, as well as with current gambling amongst those aged 11-24.
  • In the report, researchers identified a number of recommendations, including:
    1. The need for clearer safer gambling messages and campaigns, to increase the awareness of risk of gambling to children and young people, in relation to which Ipsos MORI have noted:
      • “…. industry’s commitment to the launch of the Safer Gambling campaign since the Interim Synthesis Report was published in summer 2019; alongside other commitments” but added that “it remains important to consider commitments both to independent campaigns and within marketing content produced directly by gambling companies”.
    2. Improving safer gambling education initiatives, that extend to parents, as well as children and young people.
    3. Reducing the appeal of gambling advertising, by addressing specific features that may appeal to children, for example the use of celebrities or humour, while also avoiding references to confusing financial incentives.
    4. Improved use of advertising technology and age screening tools, to minimise the exposure of such content to children, young people and vulnerable adults, in relation to which Ipsos MORI have noted that:
      • “…. since the Interim Synthesis Report, a number of positive steps have been taken by industry to explore the use of technology in this regard. The Betting and Gaming Council have launched Safer Gambling Commitments including a commitment to work with advertising bodies to explore using adtech to prevent under-18s seeing gambling adverts online. The Gambling Commission have launched their advertising technology challenge and they have also released guidance for consumers on how to limit the amount of gambling-related content they are shown on Twitter”.

Responding to the research findings, Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, has 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 to it through advertising and marketing, or via close friends and family, has the potential for serious long-term implications for children and young people. The exposure to gambling on social media suggests there is a clear need for social media companies to improve age screening tools and for gambling companies to make full use of existing ones, to help protect children from potential harmful exposure to gambling.

We must always be mindful that gambling is a public health issue and it can have serious implications for people’s mental health. This report is an apt reminder for us to ensure that the next generation is made aware of the risks of gambling as well as the help and support that is available via the National Gambling Treatment Service.

Steve Ginnis, Research Director at Ipsos MORI, has said:

The research points to the ubiquitous nature of gambling advertising, beyond sports and beyond television; and further demonstrates that the impact of exposure goes beyond traditional selling techniques that elicit an immediate response. The evidence captured in this research suggests that there is value in taking further action to reduce exposure and appeal of gambling advertising, which in turn is likely to help mitigate against the plausible risk of gambling-related harms among children, young people and vulnerable adults. Our recommendations are intended to help stimulate collective discussion and action.