Children see fewer gambling ads on TV, ASA reveals

20 December 2019

New figures from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reveal that children are now less likely to be exposed to gambling advertising on TV, though industry ads comprised a marginally higher percentage of all promotions seen.

On average the number of gambling ads seen by children on TV fell to 3.2 per week in 2018, down from a peak of 4.4 in 2013.

Gambling ads made up 2.2% of all ads minors saw on television in 2018. However, this suggests a slight increase, after gambling ads made up less than 2% of total ads seen between 2008 and 2017.

While 2018 rates are one ad higher than the 2.2 seen per week in 2008 - the first year in which betting and gaming promotions were allowed on TV - exposure levels have remained relatively stable since 2014, the ASA noted.

The regulator said that with no changes to scheduling rules over the period, this was likely to be down to changing media habits, such as viewing content online rather than on television.

The majority of gambling ads tend to be for bingo, lotteries and scratchcards. Children’s exposure to bingo ads peaked at 1.9 per week in 2013, but fell to 0.9 per week in 2018. Lotteries and scratchcard advertising, meanwhile, remained stable at around one ad per week.

For sports betting, the peak came in 2011, when minors saw one ad per week on average. Between 2012 and 2018, however, this remained less than a single advertisement, though in 2018 increased to 0.7 ads per week, from the ten-year low of 0.4 reported for 2017.

With viewing habits shifting to streaming platforms, children’s exposure to gambling ads, relative to adults, has fallen over the decade to 2018. Children saw, on average, about one gambling ad for every five seen by adults in that year.

Over a ten-year period, children’s exposure to all TV ads fell from a peak of 229.3 ads for all products and services in 2018 to a low of 141.9 ads per week in 2018, a 38.1% decline. Over the same period, however, exposure to gambling ads declined at a slower rate.

“This indicates the rate of decline in children’s exposure to all TV ads between those years is now slightly greater than the rate of reduction of children’s exposure to gambling ads within the same period,” the ASA explained.

“As noted in the previous exposure report, the scheduling rules for gambling advertising on TV have not changed over the years covered by the report.

“Whilst other factors, for example changes in marketing spend and behaviour, are likely to have accounted for the reduction in children’s exposure to TV ads for gambling between 2013 and 2017, we are confident that the scheduling rules continue to help limit children’s exposure to the extent that they ban gambling ads in children’s programmes and programmes of particular appeal to under-18s.”

The advertising watchdog added that it would closely monitor for notable changes, in particular any increases in exposure to gambling ads, in 2019 and beyond.