1 in 10 Teens Follow a Gambling Firm on Social Media

A report carried out by The Local Government Association (LGA) concluded that “greater restrictions” need to be implemented after findings showed that more than 1 in 10 UK teenagers between the ages of 11 to 15 follow at least one betting or gambling firm on social media.

Councillor Simon Blackburn - Leader of Blackpool Council

Councillor Simon Blackburn – Leader of Blackpool Council ©Blackpool Council.

The report concluded that lifting the television advertising ban for companies selling gambling products was a key factor in the increase. According to Ofcom, the UK broadcast regulator, between 2007 – when the ban was lifted – and 2012, gambling advertising in general rose by 5,000%.

The increase has been particularly noticeable in football. The Premier League is a huge draw for young fans, yet television coverage is littered with advertising for sports betting and online casinos. The LGA Safer and Stronger Communities Board are now calling for greater restrictions to be put in place to protect younger viewers from too much exposure to gambling products.

Nine of the 20 clubs in this season’s Premier League currently have a gambling company shirt sponsorship deal. A further two clubs have a gambling company sleeve sponsorship. AFC Bournemouth are the only club to appear on both lists, with an M88 shirt sponsorship and a Mansion casino sleeve sponsorship combination.

Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair, 888.com are among the biggest investors in Premier League and Football League sponsorship, offering an increasing number of markets ranging from the number of throw-ins during a match to the number of fouls awarded. Bookmakers typically offer anywhere between 200 and 250 betting markets for a single football match, with live odds featuring heavily in in-game advertisements.

The rise in both televised sporting events, such as Premier League football, and gambling advertising means viewers, particularly children, are being exposed to increasing amounts of gambling brands and betting messages. Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA Safer and Stronger Communities Board

Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the board, stressed that councils are aware of the personal harm that problem gambling can cause. He said: “While the Gambling Act was intended to position gambling as an acceptable leisure activity, we are concerned that the volume of gambling advertising goes beyond what can be deemed the right balance between socially responsible growth and protecting individuals and communities.

“The Government should seriously consider tighter restrictions on gambling advertising that is easily accessible to, and seen by children.”

LGA found that the second highest rates of problem gambling come from the 16-24 age category. It also announced that it supports the rising pressure on the government to lower the legal maximum wager for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). MPs have been calling for the highest stakes to be lowered from £100 to £2. There are currently more than 34,000 FOBTs in the UK.

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