Chil­dren ‘at risk from on­line ads’ in lock­down

The Guardian - - News Coronaviru­s - Rob Davies

Gam­bling has be­come part of ev­ery­day life for chil­dren ow­ing to a con­stant stream of ad­ver­tis­ing that makes them more likely to bet in later life, ac­cord­ing to ma­jor new re­search.

The ground­break­ing re­port cited TV ad­ver­tis­ing, so­cial me­dia and the in­flu­ence of fam­ily among fac­tors likely to lead young peo­ple to gam­ble, prompt­ing re­newed con­cern about in­creased ex­po­sure dur­ing the Covid-19 lock­down.

Re­searchers at Ip­sos Mori and the Univer­sity of Stir­ling found that 96% of peo­ple aged 11-24 had seen gam­bling mar­ket­ing mes­sages in the last month and were more likely to bet as a re­sult.

Amid crit­i­cism of the their at­ti­tude to prob­lem gam­bling and the pro­tec­tion of chil­dren, firms agreed last year to im­pose a vol­un­tary “whis­tle to whis­tle” ban on TV ads dur­ing sport.

But the in­dus­try’s mar­ket­ing spend has in­creas­ingly mi­grated on­line, a trend that re­searchers said posed new risks to chil­dren. The re­port es­ti­mated that 41,000 UK fol­low­ers of gam­blin­gre­lated ac­counts on the so­cial me­dia plat­form were likely to be un­der 16 and 6% of fol­low­ers of “tra­di­tional” gam­bling ac­counts were chil­dren.

De­spite anec­do­tal ev­i­dence of an in­crease in ad­verts for on­line casino prod­ucts dur­ing the lock­down, firms say they are ad­ver­tis­ing less. Wil­liam Hill said it was be­ing “ex­tra sen­si­tive” about its ad­verts, although one Twit­ter ad ad­vised any­one stuck at home that web-based gam­bling al­lowed them to “play in your py­ja­mas”.

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