Gambling operators found advertising to children online

  • Updated
  • By Hannah Timoney
gambling operators advertise to children

Just this morning the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) released its findings from a three month online monitoring sweep, identifying breaches of advertising rules. The ASA's report has uncovered that children are exposed to gambling advertising more than any other age restricted content.

This ASA's sweep has been conducted to identify advertisers placing age-restricted ads in children’s online spaces. These age-restricted adverts are, under the Advertising Code, required to be targeted away from child audiences and children’s websites. 

This CCTV-style sweep “prioritised identifying and tackling online ads for gambling, alcohol, e-cigarettes and tobacco, slimming and weight control products and food and soft drinks classified as high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS products).”

The findings showed gambling operators to be the highest offenders of irresponsible advertising as Watchdog found some 70 betting ads across just eight children’s websites. It is unclear however whether lottery products have been included in this study under the term of gambling, as the lottery is regulated differently as it can be played from the age of 16.

The project aimed to identify instances where advertising rules were broken and is now taking action to contact the advertisers directly and secure the removal of the offending content.

However, the ASA has announced they will not be naming and shaming the operators, as only repeated breaches of the regulations result in public action being taken. 

It goes without saying that gambling should not be advertised towards minors, and these advertising mistakes should be rectified. However, with the rise of loot boxes in video games, which often require real cash, children are being introduced to gambling at progressively earlier ages.

These loot boxes are for the most part getting a free pass as they are not being considered ‘real gambling’ despite being essentially identical in some cases, including Grand Theft Auto's unregulated online casino.

It is important that gambling is enjoyed at the correct, legal age and that all gambling is done responsibly. For more information on responsible gambling read our responsible gambling guides, or get in contact with organisations such as BeGambleAware.