Children lured into gambling by social media betting ads

Young people are being drawn into gambling by betting adverts they see on social media, a study has revealed.

Researchers from Bristol University and the Demos think tank examined almost 900,000 tweets relating to traditional gambling and the more recent phenomenon of ‘esports’ betting.

They estimated that around 41,000 accounts which interacted with the gambling adverts belonged to children under the age of 16.


The researchers said that three quarters of esports betting adverts appeared to break advertising rules, with many of them failing to adequately warn users of the dangers of gambling.

Many also did not make age restrictions clear and around half of the tweets from gambling companies offered “free” bets.

Josh Smith, a senior researcher in social media analytics at Demos, said: “We found that high volumes of messages are produced to appeal particularly to children with thousands responding.

“Advertising regulations are being regularly flouted by gambling advertisers online.”


Agnes Nairn, visiting professor of marketing at the University of Bristol, said esports gambling was being overlooked.

She said this was partly because it is online, and partly because it is “using clever content marketing such as amusing gifs, memes, pictures and funny stories, designed to appeal to and implicitly influence young people”.

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