UK Investigating Online Bookies for Advertising to Children
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has launched an investigation into advertising practices by online bookies that could be targeting children.
The authority pointed to adds that use cartoon caricatures such as Peter Pan and Jack and the beanstalk in the ads. The authority also pointed out that many UK gambling sites allow players to play some games for free without age verification. A recent story in the Sunday Times identified about 30 online games that could appeal to children.
The authority’s website said the agency is working to protect children and other vulnerable groups.
“The protection of children sits at the heart of the Advertising Codes and our work,” the web statement said. “Our own research with consumers tells us that what concerns them most about advertising is what children may see and hear. Because of their lack of life experience, children are less likely to be as well equipped to understand and process commercial messages in ads than adults. They are also often more sensitive and likely to be adversely affected by inappropriate, scary or offensive images.
Britain’s advertising code protects against ads likely to result in the mental, physical or moral harm of a child. Rules prohibit ads from depicting children in hazardous situations or encouraging them to engage in dangerous behavior. Other rules warn against ads that undermine parental authority or pressure children to buy products.
The authority estimates that 450,000 underage players are gambling in England and Wales each week. A UK Gambling Commission report published last year revealed that 6 percent of 11 to 15-year-olds had gambled online using their parents’ account. Three percent had also bet online using their own money.