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Ofcom publishes research on gambling advertising

Ofcom has published audience research into gambling advertising on television. Ofcom commissioned analysis earlier this year to look at the volume, scheduling, frequency and exposure of gambling advertising on UK television.

Ofcom initiated this research to help inform it about how television gambling advertising has changed since the market was liberalised by Parliament in 2007. This supports Ofcom’s role in monitoring and understanding the markets it regulates. The research is based on analysis of BARB viewing data and categorises gambling adverts into four types: online casino and poker services; sports betting; bingo; and lotteries and scratch cards.

The research found that the total number of gambling advertisement spots shown on television increased from 152,000 in 2006 to 537,000 in 2008 after the market was liberalised, reaching 1.39 million in 2012.

Of all gambling advertisements on television in 2012, there were 532,000 bingo adverts; 411,000 adverts for online casino and poker services; 355,000 adverts for lotteries and scratch cards; and 91,000 sports betting adverts.

In terms of shares of each type of gambling service in 2012, bingo accounted for 38.3% of adverts; online casino and poker services were 29.6%; lotteries and scratch cards represented 25.6%; while sports betting adverts accounted for 6.6% of the total. Gambling accounted for 0.7% of all advertising spots across commercial television in 2006, compared to 1.7% in 2008 and 4.1% in 2012.

The research found that adults’ exposure to gambling advertising has increased over time. In 2006, there were 8 billion ‘impacts’ – the number of times an advert was seen by viewers. This grew to 30.9 billion impacts in 2012, when gambling adverts accounting for 3.2% of all advertising seen by adult viewers.

Gambling on television was permitted following the Gambling Act 2005, which came into force on 1 September 2007. Prior to this, the only gambling advertising that was permitted on television was for football pools, bingo premises and the National Lottery.

For TV and radio, the 2005 Act imposes a duty on Ofcom to set, review and revise standards for gambling advertisements.

The Advertising Standards Authority has day-to-day responsibility for enforcing rules about advertising content and scheduling. Ofcom is the back-stop regulator and retains overall responsibility for the advertising rules.

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