Three quarters back tighter gambling ad restrictions

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More than three quarters of adults and two thirds of 11-17-year-olds back a ban on gambling adverts on TV and radio before 9pm, according to a YouGov survey of almost 12,500 people.

More than 60 per cent of adult respondents and 53 per cent of younger people also said they would back a complete ban on advertising for gambling products. 

chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, Carolyn Harris MP
Chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, Carolyn Harris MP

Three quarters of adults and 64 per cent of younger people were also in favour of stopping gambling ads before 9pm online and on social media, with 65 per cent and 54 per cent respectively backing a ban on sports sponsorships. Three quarters of adults also supported a requirement for the industry to pay a levy to finance efforts to tackle problem gambling. 

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is calling on the government to tighten gambling ad regulations as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s ongoing review of the Gambling Act. There have long been calls for a compulsory tax on the industry to fund support for people with gambling issues (DDN, June 2019, page 5) , while last year the regulatory bodies overseeing the industry were branded ‘complacent and weak’ by a parliamentary committee (DDN, July/August 2020, page 4). 

‘Advertising is a powerful force in our society – it not only influences what we buy, but it also tells us what is normal, and what we should aspire to,’ said RSPH chief executive Christina Marriott. 

The DDN guide on gambling addiction helps identify problems and the available treatment options.

‘Given the harm that gambling can inflict on individuals, families, workplaces and communities, we need to take a stronger stand against it being embedded into our social and cultural lives. We no longer allow air time to other products which harm our health, like tobacco products: gambling should be no different.’

‘There is strong public and parliamentary support for a ban on gambling advertising,’ added chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, Carolyn Harris MP. Gambling companies claim there is no evidence that gambling advertising causes harm. In fact, there is extensive evidence that shows how harmful gambling advertising can be and, in particular, the impact gambling adverts can have on children. Gambling advertising should be banned to protect children and those at risk from gambling harm.’

Meanwhile a new evaluation of the gambling support service delivered by local Citizens Advice centres in England and Wales has been published by GambleAware, with inconsistencies in screening and perceived stigma identified as barriers to success. While the expertise of Citizens Advice staff – and the organisation’s respected status – helped to uncover and support people experiencing gambling-related harm, there was an opportunity to improve the screening programme by embedding it into regular advice and further increasing awareness, said the report. The organisation screened around 30,000 people for gambling harm between October 2018 and March 2021. 

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‘This thorough evaluation has evidenced Citizens Advice’s important role in providing advice for people at risk of or experiencing gambling harm and signposting them to help,’ said GambleAware’s evaluation and monitoring director, Helen Owen.Alongside this it has helped identify the main barriers to success for the gambling support service. With this understanding we now have a clear view on what opportunities there are to improve the service. The learnings from this evaluation have contributed to the commissioning of the new process and model, at a national Citizens Advice level.’

Evaluation of the gambling support service, England & Wales at www.begambleaware.org