Study claims children in Australia believe celebrity advertising increases the appeal of gambling

Children as young as 12 found that seeing a familiar face during ads meant they would “actually listen to it” and makes gambling seem fun
The post Study claims children in Australia believe celebrity advertising increases the appeal of gambling first appeared on EGR Intel.  

Young people in New South Wales and Victoria believe celebrities and social media influencers who are paid to promote gambling make the lifestyle seem “cool”, according to a new study.

The research, which was conducted by researchers from Deakin, Wollongong and Curtin universities and funded by the Australian Research Council, found that children as young as 12 believe that seeing these stars in ads makes gambling seem safe, normal, attractive and fun. 

Overall, 64 young people from New South Wales and Victoria were surveyed, with the majority being male (68.8%) and aged between 12 and 13 years of age (51.6%).

Some of the children commented that seeing celebrities and influencers promote gambling created a perception that gambling “had little risk attached to it” or that gambling would “always lead to a win”. 

The study revealed that young people considered influencers to have a greater effect on them because they were more relatable than celebrities.

One 12-year-old boy said: “Well, if my idol, my favourite YouTuber, Instagrammer, TikToker is gambling maybe I should give it a try.”

A 15-year-old boy commented that the ads which featured celebrities or influencers made it seem like the gambling lifestyle would lead to an improvement in materialistic possessions and appearance.

He said: “I think you kind of get shown a bit of their lifestyle and think that if you can win like they are then you can like have that lifestyle that they’re living in the ads.”

Conversely, some of those surveyed believed that these ads were deceptive and misleading. One 16-year-old girl said: “They’re acting like … they’re just gambling, but they’re getting paid. It’s all set up for them.

“It’s not at all like what real gambling is like, so it’s kind of like tricking you into wanting to do it.”

Another girl criticised celebrities for penning partnerships with gambling firms, referring to it as “disheartening”. She said: “They’re just thinking about the money that they’re going to earn through doing the ad.

“They’re not thinking about the young people that are watching it. So, I don’t really think that they should be participating in these ads.”

Some participants stated that celebrities and influencers should also be involved in anti-gambling campaigns or use their platforms to discuss the risks associated with gambling. One boy suggested celebrities could push against others who endorse gambling and “fight fire with fire”.

Overall, most participants agreed celebrities and influencers should be banned from promoting gambling to better protect young people from gambling-related harm and “make it less influential to the younger generation”.

Professor Samantha Thomas from Deakin University said the Australian Government needs to take the concerns of the surveyed children onboard as part of its consideration of the recommendations laid out by the parliamentary inquiry report into online gambling led by the late Labour MP Peta Murphy. 

That report set out a 31-point plan to help mitigate the detrimental effects of gambling, with the headline recommendation being a phased comprehensive ban on online gambling advertising within three years. 

As part of today’s, 12 February, parliamentary question time, Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said the government’s “one underlying principle” to combat online gambling addiction is “harm minimisation”. 

Rowland explained her department has met with a “broad range” of digital platforms, broadcasters and academics to discuss minimising the harm caused by gambling. 

She commented: “Like many Australians, the government is very concerned about the extent of gambling ads and their impacts, which is one of the reasons why we established the House of Representatives inquiry into online gambling.

“Now, since receiving the committee’s report, we have been consulting with key stakeholders on the committee’s recommendations, and there are over 30 of them.

“My department has met with a broad range of stakeholders including broadcasters, sporting codes [and] digital platforms and I have met with a number of harm reduction advocates, public health experts and academics,” she added.

“I am very grateful for their time and insight because their perspectives and expertise as the member notes the impact that online gambling is having on young people and the saturation of gambling advertising, the close association young children have between wagering and live sport and the shame and stigma associated with those suffering gambling harm.

“There is one underlying principle that is guiding us here and it is harm minimisation.”

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