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The effect of gambling advertising and marketing on children, young people and vulnerable adults

GambleAware recently published an interim report, produced by Ipsos MORI, that examines the frequency and format of gambling advertising and marketing, and the exposure among children, young people and vulnerable adults.

These results found that, between 2015-2018, the volume and spend on gambling marketing and advertising is on the rise across different forms of media, including TV and radio, with lotteries and bookmakers among the top spenders. Sports advertising was particularly dominant online, with exposure compounded further by sponsorship used within broadcasts of live events.

Children, young people and vulnerable individuals who took part in focus group discussions for the study highlighted the prevalence of gambling advertising on TV (including during the day), on social media, on the high street and at point of sales in shops. The emergence of new sectors such as eSports presents a new set of challenges in terms of managing exposure to gambling.  

In addition to advertising and marketing, the researchers identified other factors contributing to the wide exposure of gambling within society, including the role of family and friends in introducing them to gambling.  Many revealed they had experienced exposure to gambling activity from an early age in a range of settings.

The final phase of the research and subsequent findings will focus more on the impact of gambling marketing and advertising and will be published later in 2019. 

Update on implementing the National Strategy

An implementation overview and a map of actions have been published to support delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, setting out key milestones and activities, emerging work and identified gaps to help further discussion and target action to reduce gambling harms in Great Britain. These documents together reflect some of the key developments since the strategy launch, and actions to be delivered working collaboratively with partners including health bodies, charities, regulators and the gambling industry.

At this stage, the information relating to Scotland, England and Wales is collated together but we expect to develop nation-specific action maps to help stakeholders understand actions and gaps, and coordinate activity for prevention and education, and treatment and support more effectively.

The next stage of this work includes coordinating this activity and working with partners to bring stakeholders together to ensure that the actions are targeted where they will have the greatest impact to reduce gambling harms. We invite all stakeholders to review them, consider any gaps or duplications, and contribute further with actions they too will be taking which seek to reduce gambling harms and get in touch safergambling@gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

Research into suicidal behaviour published

Reports analysing existing data which indicate a connection between problem gambling and suicidal thoughts or attempts, have been published.

The research was based on data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey in 2007 and found that 5% of problem gamblers had attempted suicide in the previous year. The research also found that 5% of people who had attempted suicide in the previous year were problem gamblers, with a further 5% classed as ‘at risk’ gamblers. This trend persisted after other factors such as mental health and substance abuse were taken into account. 19% of problem gamblers had also thought about suicide in the previous year.

The reports, are part of the Commission’s research programme for the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms and which were commissioned by GambleAware.

Gambling workplace charter launched

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has launched a workplace gambling charter, which has been created to provide a framework for employers and unions to assist workers who are having gambling problems.  The charter offers practical support and information on how employers and unions can promote the health and wellbeing of their workers who are experiencing gambling related harm, reduce sickness and absence, and assist those who want or need to change their relationship with gambling.

Citizens Advice Gambling Support Service in Wales

Citizens Advice in partnership with GambleAware has expanded services in Wales to prevent gambling-related harm and get people the support and advice they need.  The Citizens Advice Gambling Support Service in Wales will be delivered by Citizens Advice Rhondda Cynon Taff for west and south Wales with Citizens Advice Denbighshire in the north and mid-Wales region.

These regional offices will work in partnership with Addiction Recovery Agency (ARA), the National Gambling Treatment Service in Wales, to provide support to clients

A dedicated project worker based at the two local Citizens Advice will teach frontline staff to identify anyone at risk of gambling-related harm and how to help them. Routine screening will take place in both local Citizens Advice to identify clients at risk and provide advice and give valuable insight into who is more vulnerable to gambling harm and the problems it causes.

Specialist treatment services will also be provided by ARA for Rhondda Cynon Taff and Denbighshire residents as part of the expansion of treatment services in Wales.

How gambling fits into people’s lives

We have commissioned in-depth qualitative research into how gambling fits into people’s lives including considering general lifestyles, hobbies, aspirations and routines.  The research used a variety of techniques including digital diaries, immersive in-depth interviews and focus groups – in all engaging with over 100 participants

The key themes emerging from the research include how:

  • Most people perceive their own gambling behaviour as ‘normal’ and see others as at risk of problems
  • Gambling attitudes shift slowly but behaviour shows greater variation over time. This is a result of shifting from a cold state of consideration into a hot state of play. Most people aim to gamble responsibly, but can still be vulnerable to occasional hot state episodes of play
  • Responsibility for safer gambling is felt to sit across consumers, gambling companies and Government alike
  • Safer gambling strategies need to consider the nature of hot state play

William Hill betting shops to close

William Hill recently announced that it has started consultation with affected staff in the @700 betting shops that it intends to close.

Ladbrokes Coral Group penalised

An investigation by the Commission found between November 2014 and October 2017 Ladbrokes and Coral failed to put in place effective safeguards to prevent consumers suffering gambling harm and against money laundering, with this failing continuing after their merger as the Ladbrokes Coral Group.  These systemic failings has led to a penalty package including a series of improvement measures that must be implemented by new owner GVC and a £5.9m payment, while further investigations into the actions of Personal Management Licence holders continue.

2018/19 Enforcement report 

We have publishedour Raising Standards for Consumers Enforcement Report provides an overview of the enforcement work we have undertaken over the past year and sets out future lessons for operators.  More than 160 investigations were carried out and enforcement action has resulted in a variety of sanctions against operators and their senior management. Operators have also paid £19.6m in penalty packages because they failed to follow Commission rules aimed at making gambling fairer, safer and free from crime.

Annual reports & accounts published 

We have recently published our annual report and accounts which contain details of the work we’ve done during the past financial year, including our financial statement, accounts and progress updates.


Next: Consultations and call for evidence