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Should gambling advertising be banned?

Should gambling advertising be banned?

It seems impossible to escape adverts for gambling sites, particularly on 'freeview' television. While there is a case for free market enterprise there are also clear harms, both to adults and children.

It has been estimated that nearly 1.4 million people in the UK are 'problem gamblers' (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/may/19/uk-gambling-addiction-yougov-research; https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/effect-gambling-advertising-children-young-people-and-vulnerable-adults).

The situation is summarised in an article in 'Psychology Today':

'Over the last few years there has been a great deal of speculation over the role of advertising as a possible stimulus to increased gambling , and as a contributor to problem gambling (including underage gambling ). Various lobby groups (e.g., anti-gambling coalitions, religious groups, etc.) claim advertising has played a role in the widespread cultural acceptance of gambling. These groups also claim casino advertising tends to use glamorous images and beautiful people to sell gambling, while other advertisements for lottery tickets and slot machines depict ordinary people winning loads of money or millions from a single coin in the slot.

Around the world, various lobby groups claim that advertisements used by the gambling industry often border on misrepresentations and distortion. There are further claims that adverts are seductive, appealing to people’s greed and desperation for money. Real examples include: ‘Winning is easy’, ‘Win a truckload of cash’, ‘Win a million, the fewer numbers you choose, the easier it is to win’, ‘It’s easy to win’ and ‘$600,000 giveaway simply by inserting card into the poker machine’. Lobby groups further claim that in amongst the thousands of words and images of encouragement, there is rarely anything about the odds of winning – let alone the odds of losing. It has also been claimed that many gambling adverts feature get-rich-quick slogans that sometimes denigrate the values of hard work , initiative, responsibility, perseverance, optimism, investing for the future, and even education.

Those promoting gambling products typically respond in a number of ways. The most popular arguments used to defend such marketing and advertising is that: (i) the gaming industry is in the business of selling fantasies and dreams, (ii) consumers knows the claims are excessive, (iii) big claims are made to catch people’s attention, (iv) people don’t really believe these advertisements, and (v) business advertising is not there to emphasise ‘negative’ aspects of products.'(https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-excess/201511/gambling-advertising-and-marketing)

And there is a video to watch on this issue's Board: deliberativepractice.com/Issue/should-gambling-advertising-be-banned/151/Board .


Gambling adverts reveal a tension between freedom to choose (if gambling is legal why shouldn't it be advertised?) and protection of vulnerable people (the state should intervene in people's best interests - as 50 MPs believe: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jun/15/exclusive-mps-call-for-total-ban-on-gambling-advertisements).

So far most participants on this democracy group are heavily in favour of individual choice. Is this also the case with gambling advertising?

Are there democratic ways to balance the right to advertise with the avoidance of harm?

It is proposed that gambling advertising should be banned