A dramatic rise in gambling advertising is encouraging children to bet, leading figures have warned.
According to numbers compiled by media analysts Nielsen, the gambling industry has spent £1.4 billion on advertising since 2012.
Kate Lampard, the head of the charity GambleAware, has called on media and sports groups to highlight the risks of gambling and point to places where problem gamblers can get help.
Rules lifting advertising restrictions were introduced in the Gambling Act 2005. They allow bookmakers to advertise before the watershed for bingo or during live sports broadcasts.
Before the Act was introduced, The Christian Institute warned it would lead to gambling advertising becoming widespread.
In ‘Gambling with our future’, the Institute predicted: “Gambling advertising will appear everywhere from street corners to television and gambling in a casino will become as easy as playing the National Lottery.”
Writing in The Times, Lampard said that “restrictions based on a 9pm watershed may offer little protection,” and warned of a possible “crisis in gambling addiction” as children have more access to gambling.
Figures revealed that advertising by online casinos has risen by 97 per cent since 2012.
Over the same period, television advertising for betting also rose by 43 per cent to £150 million.
In total the gambling industry spent £312 million on adverts last year, a 63 per cent increase compared with 2012.
The National Problem Gambling Clinic (NPGC) has already highlighted a large increase in the number of young people seeking assistance for gambling addiction.
Founder of the NPGC, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, said it was aware that exposure to gambling advertising “can encourage young people to gamble” and “normalise” gambling.
Last year, a report carried out by the Gambling Commission found that around 450,000 children between the ages of 11 and 15 in England and Wales gambled in a week.
According to the ‘Young People and Gambling’ report, 16 per cent of children of this age had gambled in the week prior to the survey – at least twice the percentage of those who took drugs, drank alcohol, or smoked.
The report also found that three quarters of 11 to 15-year-olds have seen gambling adverts on television, nearly two thirds have seen them on social media, and nine per cent follow gambling companies on social media.