The effect of gambling marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable people
Published: March 2020
Two new reports from ScotCen, commissioned by GambleAware as part of a wider study into the impact of gambling marketing, indicate that exposure to gambling marketing is very high among children, young people and young adults, similar marketing features appeal to young people and adults and there is an association between gambling marketing and both gambling susceptibility and gambling behaviour.
Aims of the study
The two studies aimed to explore children's, young people’s and vulnerable adults’ attitudes towards gambling, gambling marketing and the impact that exposure to gambling marketing may have on gambling behaviour.
- Exposure to gambling advertising and marketing was high amongst young people aged 11 to 24, with 94% of young people reporting that they had seen gambling marketing in the last month. Young people are exposed to multiple types of gambling marketing, and reported seeing an average of 6.5 different types of marketing in the previous month.
- Awareness of gambling brands was also high among those aged 11-24, with respondents being aware of an average of 6.5 gambling brands out of a total of 10 leading brands.
- Among those young people who don’t currently gamble, exposure to gambling promotions was one of the most significant associations with whether someone was susceptible to gambling in the future. More active engagement with the marketing (for example, discussing a gambling company or gambling marketing with family or friends) was associated with both gambling susceptibility and current gambling.
- However, increasing age, favourable parental attitudes towards gambling, and having parents and peers who gamble were all also associated with current gambling practices among those aged 11 to 24 years.
- Gambling marketing was perceived to be ubiquitous, which participants believed led to its normalisation within society. Gambling marketing on TV or online were most frequently mentioned, however, exposure to gambling marketing was diverse (e.g. billboards, newspapers, point of sale displays in shops, betting shops, etc).
- Problem gamblers had the most widespread knowledge of gambling marketing. In a brand recognition exercise, children and young people were able to identify the names of an average of eight out of ten gambling companies from only a snippet of a logo, even if they had initially reported that they had little knowledge or awareness of gambling marketing.
- A number of features of gambling marketing aided recall in the participants. In young people in particular, bright colours, songs/jingles and dances, use of characters, celebrity endorsement, reference to previous winners and humour were viewed as being notable. Problem gamblers were more likely to cite special offers and inducements.
- Gambling marketing was also described as operating on a subliminal level. Participants were able to cite features of the advertising that made it noteworthy, but also reported that they were not always aware of how they had obtained their knowledge of different promotions.
- Impact of gambling marketing on attitudes towards gambling: Participants argued that gambling marketing normalised gambling activities, made them seem commonplace, harmless, enjoyable and likely to lead to success. Participants felt marketing ignored the negative effects of gambling on individuals, families and communities. Warnings and safeguarding messages were described as being inadequate when compared with the positive messages in relation to gambling participation.
- Impact of gambling marketing on gambling behaviour: Problem gamblers were most likely to report examples of marketing that had influenced them directly to gamble. Young people and those with mental health issues cited family members or friends who had been directly influenced by marketing, and on occasion they also spoke of times that they perceived themselves to have gambled as a consequence of direct exposure to gambling marketing.
The qualitative study involved focus groups and interviews with 83 children, young people and vulnerable people in Scotland and England (for the purposes of this research vulnerable groups were defined as those who experience mental health problems or problems with gambling). The quantitative study involved a survey of 1,091 young people aged 11 to 24 across England, Scotland and Wales.
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