A Christian social policy charity is calling for gambling firms to take more action to prevent children and young people being exposed to gambling advertisements online, following a new report.
An interim report by GambleAware found that an estimated 41,000 children under 16 follow gambling-related online accounts, whilst betting firms have increased spending on paid advertising by 24% between 2015-2018.
Responding to the report, James Mildred of Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) told The Catholic Universe: “There’s nothing surprising in this new report about the gambling industry and children being exposed to gambling advertising.
“This is an industry motivated supremely by profit and the desire to make as much money as possible. Children in this country have been exposed to a deluge of gambling advertising, all of which is designed to make gambling look harmless and fun,” he said.
The report stated that content specifically appealing to children and young people was evident in 11% of mainstream media gambling adverts, and 59% of eSports gambling content on social media platform Twitter.
Last week, the NHS announced the opening of its first children’s gambling clinic, as the Gambling Commission estimates that over 50,000 young people have a gambling addiction.
“We are facing a generational crisis, with tens of thousands of young people already addicted to gambling and many others betting on a regular basis,” Mr Mildred added.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson joined the clamour for gambling firms to be more pro-active in preventing gambling addiction amongst children and young people.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “No wonder so many children are gambling when irresponsible companies are placing adverts that appeal to kids. The explosion of gambling advertising in recent years is fuelling problem gambling. To tackle addiction, we need to start by tackling adverts.”
James Mildred called for new legislation to tackle the problem. “Whether it’s through sports games, or on social media, the gambling industry needs to step up and make sure it does far more to promote responsible gambling.”
“It’s time our current laws were updated so gambling firms are held properly to account,” he said.
GambleAware is an independent charity which seeks to help reduce gambling harms in Great Britain. CEO Marc Etches highlighted the report’s recommendations, such as “clearer and more regular messages on gambling adverts of the risks associated with gambling, and the need to strengthen age verification processes on social media platforms.”
The report is part of a longer-term study commissioned by GambleAware. The final report, to be published later in 2019, will examine the full impact of gambling adverts on children.