GambleAware calls for ‘more to be done’ despite ‘encouraging’ ASA report

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GambleAware believes there is “still much more to be done” to prevent children and young people being exposed to gambling advertisements.

In response to the Advertising Standards Authority’s report into children’s exposure to TV gambling and alcohol advertising over the past decade, Zoë Osmond, CEO at GambleAware, has called for a look into what lessons can be learnt from alcohol advert exposure and applied to its gambling counterpart. 

“Whilst it is encouraging to see a drop in the number of gambling adverts viewed by children, there is still much more to be done to prevent children and young people being exposed to these ads,” she said.

“Unfortunately, children’s exposure to gambling adverts hasn’t fallen at the same rate as children’s overall TV viewing and overall TV advert exposure, which means that gambling adverts are becoming increasingly prominent among the adverts that children do see on TV.

“By contrast, the much larger reduction in children’s exposure to alcohol adverts shows that reduced exposure is possible. We would welcome further efforts to explore what lessons can be learned from that and applied to gambling advertising.”

Earlier this week, the ASA’s report revealed that the number of gamblings ads seen by young people has fallen from an average three per week in 2020 to 2.2 per week the following year. 

The report also cites that the exposure drop could be relative to the decline in adult viewership that witnessed a year-on-year decline from 36 per cent in 2019 to 15.4 per cent in 2021. 

This represents a decrease in exposure to televised gambling ads of “just over a quarter”, the ASA detailed, and is indicative of a ‘general downward trend’ – however, the organisation noted that children are far more active online now than in previous years.

“Our latest report confirms the ongoing decline in children’s exposure to ads for age-restricted products, which is what our rules are designed to achieve,” explained Guy Parker, Chief Executive at the ASA. “But of course that’s not the full story. 

“Children’s media consumption habits are changing significantly, which is why we’re also focussed on protecting them online. Later this year, we’ll publish our findings on the ads they are seeing across the internet and social media as part of our zero-tolerance approach to age-restricted ads being served to children.”

Exposure to TV gambling marketing peaked in 2013 when a total of 4.4 commercials were viewed weekly, whilst exposure to bingo ads – which along with lottery and scratchcard commercials represent the majority of gambling ads seen by children – has fallen to its lowest level since 2011. 

All Betting and Gaming Council members currently adhere to a “whistle to whistle” ban in which TV adverts cannot be shown from five minutes before a sporting event until five minutes after it finishes before the 9pm watershed – this has been hailed by the standards body as a “huge success” by limiting children’s viewership of betting ads. 

As noted by the ASA, however, much of the changes in children’s advertising exposure can be attributed to changing trends in media consumption, prompting the organisation to initiate its 100 Children Report.

This programme will involve a panel of 100, 11-17 year old children drawn from across the UK, whose views will be leveraged to “take action” against age-restricted ads “served inappropriately” to children’s websites and social media accounts.

The ASA intends to use this research to “provide a crucial insight into the real-world experiences of children’s exposure to and interaction with online ads”.