Gambling seen as part of everyday life for children – report

Gambling is seen as part of everyday life for children, young people and vulnerable adults, research suggests.

A study found that exposure to gambling advertising can have an impact on attitudes towards the prevalence and acceptability of gambling, and in turn the likelihood that a young person will gamble in the future.

The attitudes and gambling behaviours of peers and parents are also critical in shaping gambling activity, according to the report published by GambleAware.

Researchers said there is a need for clearer safer gambling messages and campaigns, a requirement to improve education initiatives, a reduction in the appeal of gambling adverts to children and improved use of advertising technology.

If a child or young person has a close friend or carer who gambles, that individual is six times more likely to be a current gambler, than those without such a connection, according to the report.

Researchers observed that almost all (96%) of the 11-24 year-old participants had been exposed to gambling marketing messages in the past month.

More than four out of five (85%) aged 11-24 reported seeing gambling advertising on TV, including national lottery adverts.

70% of children and young people noticed gambling adverts in betting shops on the high street, in window displays as well as promotions on shop floors and near tills.

Those aged between 18 to 24 had higher exposure to gambling during sports events, on smartphone apps, through merchandise, gambling websites, emails and from word of mouth.

Two-thirds (66%) reported seeing gambling promotions on their social media channels that were most likely to be in the form of video adverts while watching clips on YouTube or ads appearing while scrolling through Facebook feeds.

Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware said: “Gambling is an adult activity, but this new research conclusively shows that it has become part of everyday life for children and young people.

“This constant exposure to it through advertising and marketing, or via close friends and family, has the potential for serious long-term implications for children and young people.

“The exposure to gambling on social media, suggests there is a clear need for social media companies to improve age screening tools and for gambling companies to make full use of existing ones, to help protect children from potential harmful exposure to gambling.

“We must always be mindful that gambling is a public health issue and it can have serious implications for people’s mental health.

“This report is an apt reminder for us to ensure that the next generation is made aware of the risks of gambling as well as the help and support that is available via the National Gambling Treatment Service.”

The research, involving more than 1000 young people, was commissioned by GambleAware in March 2018 and was made up of ten different strands, including media monitoring, analysis of paid-for online ads using avatars, social media analysis, and focus groups and in-depth interviews with children, young people and vulnerable adults.

The research was led by Ipsos MORI and the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling.