The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board’s advice on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms 2019–2022
Existing protections for children and young people
Some restrictions already exist on the exposure of young children to gambling advertising and marketing. The main one is the so-called 25 per cent rule. Broadly speaking, gambling advertising must not appear in media where children or young people make up a disproportionately high proportion of the audience.50 The figure is set at 25 per cent to reflect the approximate proportion of the population who are under 18. If a higher proportion is viewing particular media, advertising there is considered deliberate targeting and in principle is banned. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) also require marketeers to use tools available to them on social media to ensure content is targeted at an age-appropriate audience.51
There are three main limitations with this approach:
- the 25% figure is out of date. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics52 suggest that the proportion of 0 to 17-year-olds in the total Great Britain population is now 21%, not 25%. Babies under one year old are unlikely to be viewing advertising in a conscious way. Arguably therefore the limit should be lower than 21%
- more importantly, even if the threshold was adjusted to fit better with actual demographics it still overlooks the potential for extremely high levels of exposure when broadcast events are viewed by millions of people. If exposure is a concern, whether a programme or event has particular appeal to children is less relevant than the absolute numbers of children that are exposed to it
- the approach is not applicable to online marketing – the area where there is the largest growth in exposure for children and young people. Concerns include those relating to in-app marketing and the role of social influencers.
50 A rule to the achieve a similar effect, the 120 Index, applies to broadcast media - Identifying TV programmes likely to appeal to children (opens in a new tab), Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
51 Children : Targeting (opens in a new tab) Online advice, ASA, August 2018
52 Mid-2017 Report (opens in a new tab) Office for National Statistics, June 2018
Gambling marketing and advertising
Last updated: 28 June 2023
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