Sneaky Social Media Postings and Campaigns Lure Young People into Gambling: Report

A report warns that betting firms are using sneaky, deceitful social media postings and campaigns that may lure young people into gambling. Researchers highlighted an increase in gambling promotions that blur the line between advertising for a betting company and popular cultural references from ET to Gladiator.

The report said children don’t even know or recognize these promotions, and this may lead them to follow betting companies on social media. Dr Raffaello Rossi, a lecturer in marketing at Bristol University and author of the report, said content marketing was particularly popular with young people. “All ages were quite bad at recognizing it as advertising, but children and young people were much less able to distinguish it. It’s a sneaky way to get people engaged and create a positive perception towards gambling.” He highlighted that advertising rules specify that marketing communications must be identifiable as such.

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Sir Iain Duncan Smith, vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for gambling-related harm, said the growth of so-called content marketing is deeply concerning as gambling companies seem to be bypassing the advertising codes of practice. “If voluntary codes are not working, steps must be taken to ban content marketing in its entirety to ensure children, who spend significant amounts of time online, are being protected.”

A spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said advertising must comply with the strict guidelines and safer gambling messaging. “The government has previously stated research did not establish a causal link between exposure to advertising and the development of problem gambling.”

The research found that young people were not only able to correctly classify 43 percent of content marketing as advertising, compared with 65 percent of adults. Participants were informed that advertising is the activity of making products or services known about and persuading people to buy them.

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Nandika Chand