UK gambling operators set for record advertising spend in 2016

Clive HawkswoodThe amount spent by UK gambling operators on TV advertising campaigns is set to reach a record £123.4 million in 2016 if trends continue from the first five months of the year. The figure, compiled by media analysts Nielsen for the Guardian, would represent a 52% increase from 2012.

However, it is likely that this estimated figure may even be exceeded, as the advertising expenditure from June onwards will include campaigns for Euro 2016, the EU Referendum and Rio Olympic Games.

The total spent by sports betting, bingo, online casino and poker sites on TV adverts between the start of 2012 and the end of 2015 amounted to £465 million. The figures showed that the total spend had increased year on year, from £81.2 million in 2012 to £118.5 million in 2015.

However, Clive Hawkswood of the Remote Gambling Association has rejected claims that the increased advertising spend could lead to gambling problems.

“It is of course right that we should always be mindful of any potentially negative effects that might be associated with the advertising of gambling, but there is no proof that the increased level of advertising is leading to an increase in problems.

“This is apparent from the official government figures which show that problem gambling levels now are almost identical to what they were before the new advertising freedoms came into force in 2007.

“We should also be mindful of the fact that the DCMS-commissioned reviews of gambling advertising only concluded last year. As a result, some improvements were made to the industry code but the vast majority of the regulation is overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority, and in the light of their review and all of the available evidence DCMS decided that no major reforms were necessary.

“We believe that the government made the correct decision, but given the political sensitivities around gambling advertising it is a situation that we must continue to monitor closely.”

Research from Ofcom showed that the number of gambling spots on television adverts grew from 152,000 to 1.39 million between 2006 and 2012, after implementation of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Companies have also been able to get around the IGRG code which requires all gambling adverts to be scheduled after the 9pm watershed, because adverts around televised sporting events are exempt.

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