To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department has taken steps to restrict targeted online advertising by gambling businesses during the covid-19 outbreak.
4 May 2020
The government, Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and Gambling Commission do not hold data on the frequency at which targeted advertising is shown to or seen by social media users. The nature of targeted advertising makes it difficult to generate accurate figures as the number of targeted gambling advertisements varies considerably between users.
Targeted gambling advertising on social media platforms, like all forms of gambling advertising, is subject to strict controls. Rules on content mean that these adverts must never seek to exploit or appeal to children or vulnerable people, and rules on placement mean that they must never be targeted at these groups. In October 2019 the Gambling Commission issued a challenge to industry to make better use of advertising technology to target away from vulnerable people. Following this, it was announced in April that industry has committed to make better and more consistent use of customer data to ensure paid-for advertising is targeted away from vulnerable people on social media platforms.
The government is aware of concerns that the anxiety and isolation experienced as a result of measures in place to curb the spread of covid 19 may increase the risk of gambling-related harms for some people. In recognition of this, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage has written to operators to urge them to increase the prominence of safer gambling messaging in all adverts during the current period, including online. In addition, the ASA has written to operators warning them that they must continue to abide by existing rules and must not look to exploit the current situation.