During the recent consultations about the UK gambling laws, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport published an interesting paper detailing the numbers of gambling ads watched by UK youth, and the results are alarming.
Currently, children in the UK view around 1.4 billion gambling commercials per year. This is almost triple the amount of what it was in 2005.
You see, things were a lot different before Tony Blair, the ex-Prime Minister, relaxed the laws for broadcasting gambling adverts. Before the 2005 Gambling Act came to power, the only gambling commercials on TV were for the National Lottery, Bingo, and football pools. After the bill was implemented in September 2007, bookmakers, poker sites, PayPal casinos, and other gambling companies were allowed to broadcast their commercials after 9 pm and during live sports events.
The 2005 Gambling Act led to a massive increase in gambling adverts on TV. This resulted in kids viewing more of these ads than ever before. According to this government consultation paper, children (4 to 15 years old) were watching 500 million gambling commercials per year. These numbers are before the bill came into force in 2007.
Fast forward to 2013, and children in the UK are watching more than 2 billion commercials per year. By 2016 that number dropped to what it is today, 1.4 billion, but not because gambling companies stopped advertising. Instead, because children started to spend more time online and away from the TV.
For the slightly older age group (16-24 years old) the numbers are even worse. This group views more than 7 billion gambling commercials a year.
Of course, this paper is the continuation of the recent efforts to regulate the UK gambling industry. First, the UK Gambling Commission proposed a £2 stake limit on the betting-shop gaming machines. Next, the commission asked for the authority to punish gambling operators that break advertising guidelines. Finally, the British independent public policy think tank called ResPublica proposed a mandatory tax on the gambling operators to fund the gambling addiction research and programs.
The consultation lasts until April 22nd, and everybody can contribute to the discussion.