Children are so bombarded by gambling adverts that betting becomes ‘part of their everyday life’, major new study claims

  • More than 95 per cent of children see gambling advertisements on television  
  • Eight out of ten of the young people are able to identify a list of gambling firms
  • Researchers also found 41,000 children under 16 follow bookmakers’ accounts

Children are so relentlessly bombarded with betting advertising that gambling has become ‘part of everyday life’ for them, says a major study.

More than 95 per cent of children and young adults see gambling advertising on television, in sport and on social media, according to the work by market researchers Ipsos Mori and a group of five universities.

Some of these adverts played on the ‘susceptibilities of children’ – for example by inflating the likelihood of winning, the researchers said.

Eight out of ten of the young people surveyed were able to identify a list of gambling firms in a line-up, added the report.

Children are so relentlessly bombarded with betting advertising that gambling has become 'part of everyday life' for them, says a major study (stock image)

 Children are so relentlessly bombarded with betting advertising that gambling has become ‘part of everyday life’ for them, says a major study (stock image)

The researchers also found that 41,000 children under 16 actively follow bookmakers’ accounts on social media, and children who see gambling advertising are more likely to bet in the future.

They said bookmakers are not doing enough to prevent marketing from appealing to under-18s, even though it is illegal for them to gamble. 

‘Gambling is an adult activity, but this new research conclusively shows that it has become part of everyday life for children and young people,’ said Marc Etches of the charity Gamble Aware, which commissioned the research. 

Steve Ginnis of Ipsos Mori said: ‘The research points to the ubiquitous nature of gambling advertising, beyond sports and beyond television.’

MPs have already raised the alarm over families in lockdown, saying they are spending more time online and will be more susceptible to an onslaught of gambling advertising.

Some companies have sought to push punters towards riskier types of betting, such as online slots, because so much mainstream sport is cancelled.

Others, such as William Hill, have introduced bonus offers of up to £300 for punters joining their casino site during the coronavirus lockdown.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for gambling, said: ‘I’ve always known it, but now evidence proves we have normalised gambling to such an extent that children grow up believing gambling activity is a normal, acceptable activity.

‘And they will be bombarded with these adverts during these dreadful times.’

The Gamble Aware survey also found that two-thirds of those surveyed said they had seen promotions on their social media channels, with YouTube and Facebook most commonly mentioned.

The researchers said bookmakers must do more to ‘reduce the appeal of gambling adverts to children’.

They also said gambling and social media companies must work harder to develop advertising technology to stop young people seeing their ads online.

It was also crucial that parents take responsibility because children of gamblers are six times more likely to bet.

The Gamble Aware research was carried out by Demos, Ipso Mori and the Universities of Warwick, Stirling, Glasgow, Bristol and Edinburgh.

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