LONDON: Gambling ads on daytime TV and social media could be banned in the UK amid government concerns about their influence on children and the growing number of young adults who have developed gambling problems.
Under current rules, bingo and sports gambling ads are permitted before the 9pm watershed, but Gambling Commission figures have shown the proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds with a serious gambling problem has trebled to 1.5% in three years.
Furthermore, more than a quarter of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority last month related to betting ads and it is known that some betting companies have secured football sponsorship deals that enables them to circumvent rules banning the use of young sports stars from promoting betting.
According to government sources speaking to The Times, an official review into fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be expanded to include gambling ads.
And the use of social media to promote betting also will be covered. "The gambling industry's luck has run out," a senior minister told the paper.
The Times said the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is concerned by some promotions, such as ads featuring celebrities who encourage viewers to bet on their smartphones during football matches. "As it stands, betting sites can basically be advertising to children all weekend," a source said.
The development, which is likely to face strong opposition from broadcasters and the betting industry, follows a clear warning from a DCMS minister last month that the government was prepared to take action if required.
"The government is committed to ensuring that people, particularly the young and vulnerable, are protected from the risk of gambling-related harm," said Tracey Crouch.
"We are keeping the issue of advertising under review to ensure that sufficient protections are in place, and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary."
According to The Times, Downing Street has signalled that it supports Ms Crouch and will present curbs on gambling as part of the prime minister's drive to stand up to big business and help ordinary people.
Data sourced from The Times; additional content by Warc staff