Advertising for gambling on social media is significantly more appealing to children and young people than it is to adults, according to a new study.
A study by the University of Bristol found that disguised gambling marketing and sports betting advertisements were particularly appealing to those under 25 because they triggered positive emotions.
More than 650 children, young people and adults across the UK were surveyed between May and July 2021, with the vast majority of adults saying they feel suspicious or annoyed by gambling ads, while children mainly reacted positively.
The distribution of the age groups was as follows: 210 children aged 11 to 17, 222 young people aged 18 to 24 and 221 adults aged 25 to 78.
The report called for stricter regulations on all gambling content, as well as a ban on gambling advertising, to prevent young people from succumbing to addiction.
He adds that gambling ads on social media platforms should only appear on an opt-in basis.
The survey suggests that 45% of children and almost three in four (72%) of young people have seen gambling advertising on Twitter at least once a week – while a quarter of children (25 %) and 37% of young people said they were exposed to gambling ads on social networks on a daily basis.
As part of the study, all 653 participants were exposed to 24 different gambling ads on Twitter to study emotional responses.
The vast majority (19 out of 24) were found to be the most attractive to children.
According to the results, 15 of these ads elicited positive emotions such as happiness, calm or joy in children and youth, while only seven elicited a positive emotional response in older people.
Adults, meanwhile, were four times more likely to react negatively, with feelings of distress, anger and tension.
Ads for esports have proven to be much more appealing to children and young people than to adults.
The study’s co-principal investigator, Dr Raffaello Rossi, professor of marketing at the University of Bristol, said: more likely it will become habitual and problematic.
“This is why there must be much stricter and clearer rules in place to crack down on the problem, which could easily get out of hand given the amount of time children and young people spend on social media these days.
“A lot of the ads may sound quite innocent and harmless, but they actually pose a serious risk of making a whole new generation of gamers addicted to a serious addiction that has devastating consequences.”
Kev Clelland, strategic alliance director at the charity Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), added: Advertising on gambling.
“All gambling advertising should be designed and displayed in a manner appropriate for adults and avoid marketing techniques that appeal to children.
“Ad protections can be strengthened and advertisers and the platforms that host the ads should use technology and data to do more.”
The government is due to release its review of the 2005 gambling law early next year.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports said: “We are committed to protecting those at risk of harm from gambling. That is why we are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to make sure they are in shape. for the digital age – this includes marketing and advertising wherever they appear. “
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