Gambling ads on social media may be more appealing to children than to adult audiences they are supposed to target, a new study by the University of Bristol Suggests. In the study, interviewing 650 children, young adults and adults across the United Kingdom, researchers established that underage individuals found themselves incentivized by the ads that are supposedly developed to not appeal to those age groups in the first place.
Social Gambling Ads Per Demographics
The surveyed people were broken down into several groups, including 210 children between 10 and 17, 222 young people between 18 and 24, and 221 adults aged between 25 and 78 to better comprehend the differences in how generations respond to the same stimuli. Dr Raffaello Rossi, who is the co-lead investigator for the study, has criticized what he described as the overwhelming appeal of gambling advertisements on social media, to children in particular.
“That’s why there need to be much stricter and clearer rules in place to clamp down on the issue, which could easily spiral out of control given how long children and young people spend on social media these days.”
Study co-lead investigator Dr Raffaello Rossi
The ads, the study found out, were described as a trigger of positive emotions for individuals under the age of 25. The specific ads for those age groups had to do with esports betting, a new form of wagering that became particularly popular during the pandemic, replacing mainstream betting briefly amid a global hiatus of sports events.
The survey took place between May and July 2021 and revealed that many adults react negatively to gambling ads whereas children are more open to exploring them. In fact, the majority of the UK public wants a complete ban on gambling ads.
The Time to Act against Social Gambling Ads Is Now
So, what do the researchers suggest? They see the current state of affairs and how children interact with social gambling adverts as a call for tougher regulatory action against social media advertisements pertaining to gambling. In other words, the researchers are convinced that gambling ads should be only available as an “opt-in” option only whereby a consumer has to consent to see such ads.
This way, the risk for underage individuals to fall victim to addiction is much narrower. According to the same survey, 45% of children saw gambling ads on social media along with 72% for young people, at least once a week. However, 25% of children and 37% of young people claimed that they were bombarded with gambling ads on a regular, weekly basis.
Many of the adverts that were pushed forward to consumers intentionally sought to promote positive feelings such as “delight” and “calmness” and succeeded. The magic seemed to wear off when adults were involved with that age group getting vexed at the concept altogether.
Esports advertisement proved to be one of the most popular ads with young people, appealing to children as well. While many of these ads pose as innocent and harmless, they could have a much deeper and unpalatable impact on children’s psyche, Rossi argues. He talks about a new generation of gamblers who are “hooked on a serious addiction with devastating consequences.”
This survey reflects proposals already submitted to the Gambling Act Review by the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), which argues that more effort should be made to ensure that children are safe.
Recently, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority published a report arguing that children’s exposure to gambling ads has significantly decreased.