Children exposed to record numbers of gambling ads as marketers hit the jackpot

Figures compiled by Nielsen indicate that gambling industry ad spend hit £312m in 2016

Children are increasingly coming into contact with gambling ads, according to data which shows that online casino houses have collectively splurged £1.4bn on marketing since 2012; part of a 97% increase in ad spend over the past five years.

While aimed at adults, many of these ads are being consumed by children, sparking concerns from GambleAware, a charity offering help to those with gambling addictions, that betting shops could be unwittingly inducting a new generation of gamblers.

Figures compiled by Nielsen indicate that gambling industry ad spend hit £312m in 2016, a 63% rise on the comparable figure for 2012. Of this some £150m was accounted for by television ads but by far the biggest increase can be found in online and other advertising which now accounts for £160m of total spend.

Under current rules bookmakers are permitted to advertise on TV after 9PM with exemptions during live sporting tournaments allowing them to screen even earlier, meaning many children can catch this material, particularly in the online sphere.

Speaking to the Times GambleAware chair Kate Lampard, said: “As a society, we should be concerned about the rising risk of harm from wider access and more regular participation in gambling on future generations, resulting in a possible public health crisis in gambling addiction.

“We need to balance the array of [commercial gambling] advertising with information about the risks of gambling, and where to get help if it becomes a problem.”

The close association between sport and gambling came under scrutiny during the so-called 'pie-gate' scandal in which Sutton FC goalkeeper Wayne Shaw was filmed devouring a pie in cahoots with bookmaker Sun Bets after it offered odds on the unlikely half-time snack.

Last year an investigation by the Times found that Twitter users under the age of 18 who follow popular sports accounts were being "bombarded" with gambling ads.

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