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Ban On Young Celebrities In Gambling Ads To Prevent Children From Betting

restrictionsThere has been something of a desire to see a crackdown on the rules and regulations that apply to the gambling industry in recent times, not least of all when it comes to trying to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Calls for credit cards to be banned or restricted for betting purposes are one such example, coming off the back of criticism of the GamStop self-exclusion system that was shown to have major flaws earlier in the year.

Banks have seen seen the chance to gain positive publicity in recent times by offering customers protection too, with Barclays offering customers the chance to block their ability to pay money to gambling companies from within their mobile app.

Now it looks as though the rules surrounding the use of sports stars and celebrities in gambling adds are due to face some major changes, particularly with reference to adverts that might appeal to younger audiences.

Study Suggests Young People Gamble Regularly

im a celebrity gambling adsA recent study by the Committees Of Advertising Practice found that just shy of half a million children between 11 and 16 admitted that they gambled regularly.

It was obviously cause for concern for CAP, who see the protection of younger children from adverts that would be considered to be within their remit.

CAP writes the codes of UK advertising that is then administered by the Advertising Standards Authority, so their response to the study is noteworthy in how it will affect things moving forward.

It is felt that exposure to adverts that meet the Advertising Codes currently in place is unlikely to ‘harm under-18s’, but that adding further restrictions to targeted adverts will help reduce the number of younger people being enticed to gamble.

One of the biggest areas that the CAP is concerned about is social media campaigns, with 1 in 8 youngsters follow a gambling company online and are consequently 3 times more likely to go on to gamble.

That news came on the back of the popular ITV show ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’ used a a gambling company as the main sponsor for its mobile app.

Ban On Young Celebrities Promoting Gambling

declan rice with betway logo on his shirtOne of the big changes coming in will see gambling products forbidden from using licensed characters or cartoons that would be likely to appeal to younger people. It follows calls from Tom Watson, the Labour Party Deputy Leader, for cereal brand companies to do the same thing in the wake of the childhood obesity problem.

There will also be a ban on using celebrities who appear to be under the age of 25, in the hope that this will stop younger people who are easily led by such figures from seeing gambling as an attractive activity to get involved with.

Restrictions will also be put in place on the use of gambling influencers, social media targeting and the gamification of gambling. The reasoning was summed up well by the director of CAP, Shahriar Coupal, who made the point that gambling companies veering to the edge of regulatory compliance was ‘a gamble at the best of times’, but is a particularly foolish thing to do when it comes to the ‘welfare of children’.

There are some holes in this plan however that have been pointed out.  For example, many football clubs have betting sponsors on their shirts and have many players under 25.  Indeed, there are a few instances of players under the age of 18 wearing shirts with gambling logos on them.  This seems strange given how children view footballers as role models.

The image in this section shows West Ham player Declan Rice with a Betway logo on his shirt, yet he is 20 years old (at the time of writing).

Specific Things Brought To Attention In Review

asa capThe CAP review looked at the impact of gambling adverts on children and the evidence put forward, which is something that was last done 5 years ago. The review took into account complaints received in the past by the Advertising Standards Authority about games that appeared to appeal to children, with the following being specifically highlighted:

  • A William Hill advertising promotion that appeared within an app for the game Mario Kart
  • The animated Wizard featured in Coral’s ‘Lucky Wizard’ slot game
  • A gambling website that featured well-known characters from fairy stories, including Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel & Gretel

The ASA ruled that none of those adverts should be allowed to appear again in the same form, but there is an extent to which the organisation is somewhat toothless in terms of what it can do.

Whilst it will and can encourage companies to follow the rules, it does not have any power to take punitive action in the form of fines of bookmakers don’t do so.

It’s Not In Bookies’ Interests To Get Young Gamblers

young person pretending to play pokerAccording to Dr Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, it is not in the interest of bookmakers to appeal to young customers. The professor of behavioural addition believes that people who start gambling at a young age are more likely to become problem gamblers when they grow older, meaning that it is better for bookies if they don’t start betting until they are adults.

He is of the belief that the majority of people involved in the gambling industry don’t want to appeal to anyone under the age of 18 anyway.

That is an assertion backed up by the regulatory policy executive for CAP, Andy Taylor. He said that not many gambling companies actually used stars that would appeal to a younger market, such as a young footballer who has only recently burst onto the scenes.

He pointed out that the latest set of standards are specifically targeted at the ‘online space’, safe in the knowledge that most bookmakers have long known about the ‘cut off point’ when it comes to ‘traditional media’ but have maybe attempted to push the boundary a little online in recent times.

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