Children ‘at risk from online ads’ in lockdown
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”.