Most responsible parents would never intentionally take their children to the bookies.
However, when you tuck in with them at home to catch a game, you find that there is no distinction between you and the children when it comes to gambling adverts.
True to their nature, children are often left wide-eyed as soon as the adverts, which aggressively show gambling as fun, manly and richly rewarding, hit the screens. Any conversations you may try to have with then will be like water to rock as Ray Winstone’s growl of “bet in play – naaaawwww” reverberates around the room.
Betting adverts are excessive and are becoming an issue for people that just want to enjoy a sports game. Since 2006, gambling ads on TV have soared nearly 1000%. As at 2012, there were 1.39 million gambling ads on TV. Bingo standalone gambling sites and those gambling sites that offer new online casino games led the way with 532,000 spots, whilst lottery and sports betting ads had 355,000 spots and 91,000 spots respectively. Many expect that by the time the new Ofcom figures come in, these figures will have near doubled.
Is gambling evil?
This depends on the approach you take to gambling. Many people enjoy gambling with play money and therefore never put themselves at risk of being without heating or going hungry. They also do not borrow to gamble.
So why are these ads a problem?
Firstly, the myriad of gambling adverts can fuel addiction a great deal. Whilst the vast majority can withstand the barrage of adverts by continuing to gamble responsibly, others descend into serious financial trauma and an endless cycle of debt and depression.
Secondly, these adverts are seen by children who are still vulnerable and impressionable. To make matters worse, most of these adverts feature cartoon like characters, which make children feel that gambling is something they should be doing, just like playing a games console.
Thirdly, there is concern from experts that the unholy matrimony between gambling houses and sports teams and professionals makes it difficult to truly combat the menace of match fixing. Gambling partnerships have taken root in football a long time ago, so there is little resistance on that front but Andy Murray was recently vocal against gambling companies going into partnership with Tennis Authorities. This was after William Hill became the new sponsor of the Australian Open.
So what should be done?
Firstly, there should be a curfew for when these ads can be shown to ensure that they are not in the face of children during daytime TV viewing hours. Secondly, the gambling firms have to be mandated to place less emphasis on winning and more on the high risks of gambling. There is a greater chance of losing money than winning, so that needs to be reflected in the ads.