Research from the University of Bristol has argued that gambling operators should be banned from advertising in eSports.
The findings found that ads of this kind are more appealing to youngsters than they are to older audiences by a considerable distance.
What Did the Research Reveal?
To complete the research, 210 children between 11 and 17 years old were included — alongside 222 individuals between the ages of 18 and 24, plus 221 adults ranging from 25 to 78-years-old.
According to the research, 72.4% of people aged 18-24 saw gambling ads on their social media feeds at least once per week. More worryingly, 45.2% of participants between the ages of 11 and 17 said the same.
There was a huge disparity between who found those gambling ads appealing, with 19 out of 24 being of higher interest to children than older participants. On top of that, just seven of these ads created positive emotions in adults — compared to the remaining 17 for youngsters.
Stricter Regulations Proposed
Needless to say, the findings mentioned above rang alarm bells in the researchers’ ears. Agnes Nairn — Marketing Professor at the University of Bristol — said: “We know from previous research that children are actively following and engaging with gambling content on social media and regulators are struggling to keep up with this trend. This new research shines a spotlight on two specific types of gambling adverts: content marketing and esports that are strongly and significantly more appealing to children and young people than to older adults.
Nairn continued: “Importantly, the current regulations do not address these types of advertising at all. The esports market is forecast to exceed a billion dollars this year. It has an audience of 500 million people, most of them children and young people. The regulations need to be reformed as a matter of urgency.”
Is Gambling Advertising in the UK About to Get Tougher?
The UK is currently in the midst of a review of the 2005 Gambling Act, with many activists calling for a change to laws surrounding gambling advertising. Operators in the country have already agreed on a whistle-to-whistle ban for promoting themselves during sporting events, but some people don’t think that’s enough.
Some within British politics have called for a total ban on operator-sports clubs sponsorships. Meanwhile, others have argued that advertising needs changes.
According to the research, the fact that gambling ads are “dramatically more appealing to children and young persons than to adults” is enough of a reason for them to become outlawed in eSports.
The Young Gamblers and Gamers Education Trust (YGAM) has implemented several workshops and resources around gambling awareness for youngsters and their parents. Strategic Alliance Director Kev Clelland believes that operators should do more to minimise the impact of their ads on children:
“All gambling advertising should be designed and displayed in a way that is appropriate for adults and avoids marketing techniques that appeal to children. There is an opportunity to strengthen advertising protections and both the advertisers and the platforms which host adverts should use technology and data to do more.”