GambleAware Finds Children’s Spaces Infested with Gambling Ads in the UK

A study found that a great number of children in the UK are exposed to gambling ads and activities at a very young age, leading to significant risks of problem gambling later in life.
GambleAware Finds Children’s Spaces Infested with Gambling Ads in the UK
April 24, 2024

Problem gambling is a danger to everyone, but young minds are more susceptible to it and other addictive behaviors according to many studies.

A most recent study commissioned by GambleAware found that children’s spaces in the UK are saturated with gambling-related content and ads, which has the potential to lead to various negative outcomes among the youngest populations.

According to UK laws, advertising gambling directly to children is prohibited, as creating ads that appeal to young people or promotions targeted at underage children is strictly against the rules.

Yet, the study found that young people across the UK get into touch with gambling through various venues and are often unable to make clear distinctions between gambling and other types of gaming.

Gambling a Part of Everyday Life

The GamblingAware-commissioned study conducted a survey of children and young adults between the ages of 7 and 25 in the UK, and found some very interesting facts about how these groups see gambling.

According to the report, the majority of children reported being introduced to gambling through various everyday events, with National Lottery, horse races, scratch cards, and even non-gambling activities like loot boxes introducing them to activities that could be construed as gambling.

Many such games share elements with popular casino games and other forms of gambling, introducing children and young adults to gambling very early.

GamblingAware reported that: “The bright, loud and eye-catching nature of gambling adverts drew children and young people in, and many reported that gambling could look like gaming and vice versa, and the look and feel of the two worlds felt interchangeable.”

Many childred included in the study also reported that they were not educated about the potential harms of gambling and would like to have more such education in their school curriculum.

The study leads to some very serious questions about whether the advertising policies in the UK are strict enough and whether gambling is being spread too loosely in spaces where it can be easily accessible to minors.

Gambling at an Early Age

What’s even more worrying than children being exposed to gambling ads in the UK is the fact many children reported participating in some form of gambling activity already.

Examples of such early exposure include adults allowing children to place coins in slot machines or buying children lottery tickets or scratch cards to play with.

In all such cases, children are directly exposed to gambling activities, which not only breaks the advertising rules but directly breaks gambling laws.

Previous research has found that children who are exposed to such activities are 2.3 times more likely to experience issues with problem gambling later in life, making it a significant concern.

GamblingAware CEO Zoe Osmond said: “This research shows that gambling content is now part of many children’s lives. This is worrying as early exposure to gambling can normalise gambling for children at a young age, and lead to problems.”

“We need to see more restrictions put on gambling advertising and content to ensure it is not appearing in places where children can see it.

“Urgent action is needed to protect children because they can be seriously affected by gambling harm, as a result of someone else’s gambling or their own participation.”

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