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Gambling: Advertising

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 65166, tabled on 26 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) the Betting and Gaming Council and (b) sports clubs on reducing the level of gambling advertising in sport in the last 12 months.

Answered on

6 July 2020

All gambling advertising, wherever it appears, is subject to strict controls on content and placement. Ads must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people and operators face sanction if their advertising or sponsorship activities are not carried out in a socially responsible way. These rules mean that an operator would face sanctions from the Advertising Standards Authority or the Gambling Commission if their advertising were to appear in computer games targeted at children. The realistic reproduction of a team football shirt in a computer game based on football is not considered advertising simply because there are logos on the shirt.

The Advertising Standards Authority’s latest figures on TV gambling advertising show that children’s exposure has fallen from an average of 4.4 ads per week in 2013, to 2.5 per week in 2019. At the Gambling Commission’s urging, industry has committed to make better use of advertising technology to target adverts away from children online and on social media. From July 2020 the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible advertising will require operators to ensure advertising is targeted only at those over 25 years old on social media and to age-gate operator YouTube channels and content.

The Government assessed the evidence on advertising in its Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures, the full response to which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-proposals-for-changes-to-gaming-machines-and-social-responsibility-measures. Since then, in March this year, the charity GambleAware has published the final report of a major piece of research into the effect of gambling marketing and advertising on children, young and vulnerable people. That study found that while there was some indication that exposure to advertising was associated with an openness to gamble in the future amongst children and young people aged 11-24 who did not currently gamble, there were other factors that correlated more closely with current gambling behaviour amongst those groups including peer and parental gambling. It did not suggest a causal link between exposure to gambling advertising and problem gambling in later life.

Ministers have regular meetings with stakeholders on a range of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the government’s website at: https://www.gov.uk/search/transparency-and-freedom-of-information-releases?content_store_document_type=transparency&organisations%5B%5D=department-for-digital-culture-media-sport.