Children’s online spaces ‘saturated’ with gambling ads

Children’s online spaces ‘can feel saturated’ with gambling adverts and content, according to a report from GambleAware. The ‘blurred lines’ between gambling and gambling-like activity – such as ‘loot boxes’ in online games – also mean that children are unaware of the risks associated with online gambling, the document states.

Children were frequently drawn in by the ‘bright, loud and eye-catching nature’ of gambling ads, the report says, with many reporting that gambling could look like gaming and vice versa. ‘The look and feel of the two worlds felt interchangeable,’ it states.

The report is based on interviews with young people aged seven and above, as well as their families – with a particular focus on children under 11, young people aged 11-17 and considered vulnerable, and children and young people affected by a loved one’s gambling.

Previous research commissioned by the charity found that although 96 per cent of 11 to 14- year-olds had awareness of gambling marketing from the previous month, less than 40 per cent were aware of any health information or warnings on gambling ads.

Zoë Osmond: ‘Urgent action is needed to protect children’

GambleAware – which is funded by donations from the gambling industry – is calling for stricter marketing regulation. ‘Gambling advertising (particularly online gambling) can often utilise the same visual and tonal expressions as those used in content explicitly targeting children (cartoon graphics and bright colours and sounds),’ the report states. ‘Regulation is required to ensure that operators explicitly state that this type of content is not for children and young people.’

‘This research shows that gambling content is now part of many children’s lives,’ said  GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond.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.’

 Qualitative research on the lived experience and views of gambling among children and young people, available here

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