Glasgow to Review Gambling Ad Rules

Glasgow City Council (GCC) is looking to revise its current gambling advertising rules amid concerns of growing rates of gambling participation amongst minors. The move follows reports that indicate that gambling is even more prevalent amongst Glaswegian youth than drugs, smoking and alcohol consumption.

The Glasgow City Council building in George Square.

Glasgow’s City Council members have announced their plans to revise gambling advertisement regulations ©Scottish Housing News

The fears around the risks associated with gambling were outlined to a number of Glasgow Council members by Dr. Michelle Gillies, a consultant currently employed by the Scottish Public Health Network (SPHN). Amongst the evidence of increased youth gambling rates, the SPHN has described gambling as a significant public health issue.

It is understood that a large part of the growing problem is owed to the accessibility of gambling that is afforded to youth gamblers and vulnerable persons because of online gaming options. Remote gambling has become more easily available, with an increased spent in advertising on the products making the products more appealing.

Baillie Annette Christie, a member of the Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community and Citizen Engagement committee has suggested that research into gambling operator’s marketing campaigns, in particular, those online, is finding that gambling exposure is a huge link in how children and the vulnerable are developing deeper relationships with gambling.

“The city has had a longstanding problem with gambling, but now we need to acknowledge that traditional approaches just aren’t working. The gambling sector has changed over recent years and therefore how we tackle the problems that arise from gambling addiction and how it impacts other areas of a person’s life, needs to change too.”Baillie Annette Christie, Member, Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community and Citizen Engagement Committee

Baillie Annette Christie also revealed the researchers from the University of Edinburgh would begin a study of schools across the city over the next eighteen months to gain a better insight into gambling use across the youth demographic.

“We need to treat gambling the same as alcohol and smoking addictions have been treated in the past – as public health problems,” she added. “We need a new approach and to look at all the different policy areas including health, education, planning, licensing, and financial inclusion that could be used to treat and support people and prevent the harm in the first place.”

Tackling Problem Gambling in the UK

There is a growing push to tackle youth gambling in the UK. This year, an inquiry into the effect of video game loot boxes by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) prompted calls for The Gambling Commission (UKGC) to ban them for children, citing fears that they will introduce children to gambling.

The investigation followed a 2018 nationwide survey by the UKGC that found that approximately 14% of children aged 11 to 16 years were likely to have gambled at least once in the week leading up to the survey.

Similar figures released by The University of Bristol in August also found that minors are involved in high rates of engagement with eSports betting advertisements on Twitter. The report revealed that 28% of those interacting with sports betting tweets were under 16 years old.

The statistics have been used by many gambling reform campaigners to highlight that advertising has played a large role in the introduction of youth to online gambling activities. According to anti-gambling campaigners, the entire gambling sector needs to focus its efforts on reducing problem gambling, starting with an overhaul of regulations surrounding gambling advertisements. Glasgow Council’s Deputy leader David McDonald is among those who have called for the council to use its powers in lessening the harmful impacts on society associated with excessive gambling advertisements, characterizing gambling addiction as a “hidden epidemic”.

The findings have prompted the GCC to announce that it will host a summit in 2020 to bring together academics, health professionals, third sector, youth workers and those affected by the harms of gambling addiction to revise the current situation and blueprint a strategy for action.

The strategy is set to involve a whole systems approach that will focus on both the prevention and treatment of individuals. This would include finding where interdependencies in relation to how gambling impacts a person and their loved ones and outlining a response with the affected parties.

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