According to researchers at the University of Bristol, a study of advertising during the first weekend of the English Premier League shows that self-regulation “completely fails”.
The Business School of the University assessed coverage on TV, radio, and social media over four days from 11-14 August.
According to the study, 92% of gambling brand content marketing ads that were not clearly identifiable as advertising violated advertising regulations. According to the CAP Code, marketing communications must be “obviously identifiable.
Over the course of four days, the team discovered a total 10,999 gambling messages on TV, radio, and social media. This included 6,966 messages about gambling that were recorded during six live broadcasts of Sky Sports and TNT Sports.
Researchers found that only 18,7% of the advertisements included age warnings and less than one quarter (20.6%), contained messages about gambling harm reduction.
The study, according to the team, reveals how “gambling messages are omnipresent in UK media and social media coverage”. The team also claimed that self-regulation, with operators adhering the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, is not enough to curb the spread of these campaigns.
Raffaello Rosi, co-lead researcher and lecturer at the University of Bristol Business School in marketing, stated: “Our research shows that gambling marketing is unavoidable during Premier League weekends. Gambling marketing is omnipresent in football, with various channels. It has become a part of the game.
“Our study highlights an important issue with social media marketing, especially content marketing. Content marketing ads that are 92% less obvious as advertisements violate key advertising regulations. “We urgently need stronger regulations to protect consumers, especially children who are particularly vulnerable to sneaky advertisements.”
“Predatory and Excessive Gambling Marketing”
The study found 1,902 gambling advertisements on social media during the Premier League weekend. These ads generated 34 million impressions. This data highlights social media’s influence and effectiveness as a platform to advertise gambling.
The majority of gambling messages, 6,966 in total, were broadcasted during match broadcasts. Sky Sports News was next with 2,014 and social media with 1,902 followed by TalkSport Radio with just 117.
Rossi added, “Self regulation of the gambling industry has failed completely.” “The gambling industry is primarily concerned with profit and not the public welfare.”
It is obvious that they won’t implement measures to reduce gambling or their profits. The UK government must do its duty to protect people from excessive and predatory gambling marketing.
BGC criticises University of Bristol Research
The UK gambling industry body, the Betting and Gaming Council BGC (BGC), has criticized the research.
The lobbying group said that the research “fundamentally misunderstands the advertising industry and how it is regulated while making statements that are either incorrect or misleading.”
BGC stated that 20% of current radio and TV advertising was safer gambling messages. The BGC added that this commitment was recently extended to digital channels.
The BGC on X (formerly Twitter) said: “Betting advertising must adhere to strict guidelines. Safer gambling messages, which promote safer gambling tools, and signposts that help those who are concerned about their bets, are regularly and prominently displayed. ”
Last year, GambleAware awarded the university a grant of PS4m to launch a Bristol Hub for Gambling Harms Research. This organization conducts research to improve public understanding of gambling harm.
Dr Jamie Wheaton is a research associate with the hub. He said that while policies such as the ban on sponsorships in front of shirts and whistle-to-whistle are a step in the right directions, they have been shown to be ineffective. We need to pass comprehensive legislation that regulates gambling messages on hoardings and shirts as well as radio and social media.
“We think the whistle-tootle ban should include all forms: hoardings and shirts; ad breaks on TV, radio, and online. We need to follow the lead of other countries who have banned gambling advertising in sports.