Gambling Advertising - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 2:33 pm ar 25 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top Llafur 2:33, 25 Ebrill 2024

My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Foster, for initiating this debate, and for all the work and commitment he gives to tackling gambling harm. I too have interests to declare: I am a trustee of GambleAware, I work with the Behavioural Insights Team on its advisory group, and I am also involved with Peers for Gambling Reform.

When I grew up, I had virtually no knowledge or recognition that gambling happened. No child or young person today would be able to say that. Recently published research, commissioned by GambleAware, shows that children and young people described their online spaces as “saturated” with gambling content, which is being seen in their everyday activities, even if they are not looking at supposed gambling sites.

Gambling advertising and content from influencers and footballers were identified as a potential pathway to gambling and are experienced by young people. The bright, eye-catching nature of adverts draw children and young people in. A 14 year-old girl said:

“The ads … make it look like a really fun activity that has no consequence outside of using or winning some money”.

For far too many children and young people, gambling has become normalised. It is simply part of their life. If you ever go to a football match, as I do, you cannot escape the gambling adverts and the involvement of all the spectators in either taking notice or decidedly trying not to take notice of it. There is clear evidence now that this normalisation is a factor in people becoming addicted.

The impact on children and young people is stark. Recall of gambling adverts among 13 to 25 year-olds is positively associated with frequent gambling. Those with the greatest exposure to adverts are 2.3 times more likely to experience problem gambling later in their lives. Marketing is now almost four times more appealing to children and young people than it is to adults, so this is an issue that really hits children and young people.

What should the Government be doing? They certainly need tougher restrictions in sport. There needs to be a stadium and a shirt ban, and the Government should push sports organisations to publish the sports sponsorship code of conduct that they say have completed so that it can be scrutinised. The Government should ban pre-watershed advertising. The Australians, the Germans and the Irish have done this—why have we not done so? That would be another way of making sure that children and young people do not see quite as much advertising. Evidence-based safer gambling messaging and signposting from the operators should also be pushed by the Government. That is possible and available, and it will be available to the Government to push the operators to do that in the very near future.

This morning, we heard that more young people in this country drink, smoke and vape than in any other western country. We could add gambling to that. This is a very serious issue. As I have said, the evidence shows that the more exposure to those sorts of addictions as a child, the more likely addiction is to follow. Those addictions will blight the lives of these children and young people for the rest of their life. We cannot stand by and say that children should not be supported to avoid those terrible addictions. The Government have a responsibility and, quite honestly, they did not meet it in the White Paper. I hope that they will do so now.