Academics urge Govt to restrict gambling ads to protect young people

Dozens of academics have urged Westminster to restrict gambling advertising in order to protect children and young people.

The group of 50 academics, led by Emeritus Professor Jim Orford of Clinical and Community Psychology at the University of Birmingham, composed a letter to the Health Secretary and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

In December, over 160 MPs and peers called on the Government to introduce new gambling reforms.

Public health

The academics said restrictions were “badly needed”, and that protecting young people should be a “top priority” with unprecedented numbers being exposed to gambling adverts via the internet and television.

“In our opinion it has become quite clear that the gambling products being offered and the ways in which they are promoted are harmful to individual and family health and damaging to national life”, they wrote.

A Government White Paper on reforming the Gambling Act 2005 was initially expected in 2021 but has reportedly now been delayed to May.


Writing in The Guardian, campaigner Annie Ashton shared how her husband Luke committed suicide after relapsing into his gambling addiction.

She said: “On one account he reopened during the pandemic, the pattern of his gambling was obviously harmful. He took advantage of a free bet offer, deposited money, lost money, was immediately advertised another free bet offer, and the cycle would begin again.”

Ashton explained that this is why she is campaigning “to ban gambling incentives such as ‘free bets’. Luke found that being bombarded with ads from that 24-hour bookies and casino in his pocket made it a problem that became impossible to escape. Banning these incentives may go some way to alleviating the misery that gambling companies cause families like ours with their predatory actions.”


In December, over 160 MPs and peers petitioned the Government to deliver on its 2019 manifesto commitments on the matter “to deliver social justice and a better future for all”.

Their letter also highlighted that more than 55,000 children aged 11 to 16 were now addicted to gambling.

Also see:

Students are gambling away over £1,600 a year

Women looking to escape trauma getting hooked on gambling

ROI committee calls for ban on online gambling ads targeting kids

Related Resources