Pioneering research reveals powerful appeal of social media gambling ads to children


A new report has shown how vulnerable children and young people are to the growing popularity of social media gambling ads, which has prompted leading experts to call for much stricter regulations.

The research, released today as part of a policy briefing led by the University of Bristol, found that gambling advertising is much more appealing to children than it is to adults.

Most notably, the study results showed that disguised gambling marketing and esports betting ads – of online professionals participating in computer games – were almost four times more appealing to children. only for adults. He also revealed that nearly half of children are exposed to such advertising every week and about a quarter encounter it daily.

While the results showed that the vast majority of adults were suspicious or annoyed with gambling ads, children mostly responded positively.

Co-Principal Investigator Dr Raffaello Rossi, who is conducting unique research on the use and impact of social media gambling advertising, said: As is known, the earlier people start gambling, the more it will become a habit and a problem.

“This is why much stricter and clearer rules need to be put in place to tackle this problem, which could easily get out of hand given the amount of time children and young people spend on social media these days. Many advertisements may seem completely innocent and harmless, but they actually pose a serious risk of getting a whole new generation of gamers addicted to a serious addiction with devastating consequences. “

The report, in light of its findings and previous studies, calls for:

  • Advertising on electronic gambling, which automatically attracts children and young people, should be banned.
  • Gaming content marketing, which masquerades as something compelling, needs to be tightly regulated and informed by what is proven to attract young people.
  • Regulators to widen the age range of a “youngster” from 16-17 to 16-24 years old.
  • Social media platforms only allow social media gambling ads when users actively choose to receive them.

The report comes as the law on games of chance is currently under review by the government and the Committee on Advertising Practices (CAP) has launched a consultation to better protect children against advertising on games of chance that affects them. interested.

Although Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) codes currently prohibit gambling advertising from being “particularly appealing to children and adolescents,” no investigation has been conducted into what exactly interests them. While advertisements using cartoons may be banned on such grounds, research results showed that posts featuring cartoons were the least appealing to children, and advertisements the most appealing, which were more subtle, n ” would not violate the regulations.

This study interviewed 210 children aged 11 to 17 online, 222 young people aged 18 to 24 and 221 adults aged 25 to 78 in the UK from May to July last year.

It showed that nearly half (45.2 percent) of children and almost three-quarters of youth (72.4 percent) saw gambling advertising on Twitter at least once a week. A quarter of children (25.2%) and more than a third (37.3%) of young people said they saw it daily.

The results also found that the vast majority of Twitter gambling ads (19 out of 24) were twice as likely to appeal to children and young people than older adults, with young people responding most favorably. While almost two-thirds (15 out of 24) of gambling ads elicited positive emotions in young people, such as excited, happy, or elated, less than a third (seven out of 24) elicited an emotional response positive in adults. In contrast, adults are four times more likely to react negatively, to feel distress, anger or tension when exposed to gambling advertisements.

These trends were most pronounced with game content marketing, which was found to be almost four times more appealing to children and young people than adults with almost all ads (11 of 12) triggering positive emotions. in children and young people, compared with less than half of them (seven out of 12) do so for adults.

Ads for electronic gambling were also found to be much more appealing to children and young people than adults, who were found to be four times more likely to experience extremely negative emotions about ads than children.

Co-Principal Investigator Agnes Nairn, Professor of Marketing at the School of Management at the University of Bristol, said:. This new research sheds light on two specific types of gambling advertising: content marketing and esports which are strongly and significantly more appealing to children and young people than to older people.

“It is important to note that the current regulations do not deal with these types of advertising at all. The esports market is expected to exceed $ 1 billion this year. It has an audience of 500 million people, mostly children and young people. Regulations urgently need to be reformed. “

The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), a leading UK gambling harm prevention charity, offers a range of educational programs, working with thousands of schools and young practitioners to help to engage and protect future generations against the harmful effects of gambling.

Kev Clelland, Director of Strategic Alliance at YGAM, said: “A key part of our programs is focused on gambling advertising, as well as the growth of esports, and this latest research will further inform our evidence-based resources. The results support the evidence we submitted to the Gaming Act for review, where we called for more to be done to minimize children’s exposure to gambling advertising. All gambling advertising should be designed and displayed in a manner appropriate for adults and avoid marketing techniques that appeal to children. Ad protections can be strengthened, and advertisers and the platforms that host the ads should use technology and data to do more.


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