Photo of author

GambleAware urges for health warnings on gambling ads amid findings of inadequate safer gambling communication

Enhanced Health Warnings Urged for Gambling Adverts

GambleAware urges for health warnings on gambling ads amid findings of inadequate safer gambling communication

GambleAware, the leading commissioner of gambling harms prevention and treatment services in Great Britain, has called for enhanced evidence-based health warnings on gambling adverts. The call comes in response to findings published today from an independent research consortium, showing the need for clearer safer gambling messaging that highlights the risks associated with gambling.

New Health Warnings Recommendations

The research, based on a survey of over 7,000 people, has called into question the effectiveness of the widely used industry-led slogan ‘Take Time To Think’ (TTTT). The report revealed that the current slogan fails to land the jeopardy of gambling harms or signpost where people can get help.

Alexia Clifford, Chief Communications Officer for GambleAware, said: “Gambling harms are a serious public health issue, and it is vital that people are aware of the risks associated. Today’s landmark study underscores the need to replace the industry-led slogan ‘Take Time To Think’ with more compelling health warnings.

Findings from the study indicate replacing current industry marketing messages with three new health warnings, which were shown to be clearer, more impactful, and more memorable to both the public and people who gamble.

Emphasising addictiveness was shown to prompt behaviour change, with the strapline ‘Gambling can be addictive’ having greater cut-through (46% of people who gamble vs. 35% for TTTT) and prompting the most people setting the lowest deposit limit. The warning ‘Gambling comes at a cost’ was seen by people who gamble as more impactful and memorable, especially compared to TTTT (22% of people who gamble say this vs. 12% for TTTT). It effectively conveyed implications beyond financial harms. ‘Gambling can grip anyone’ also performed well across metrics.

Dr Raffaello Rossi, a lecturer in marketing at Bristol University and co-author of the research, said: “In the absence of strict gambling marketing restrictions, it is absolutely vital that we see warnings on gambling advertising that highlight the addictive nature of gambling, paired with clear, unambiguous signposting for people to access support if needed. We need to see better regulation of gambling operators who are widely bombarding us with their ads.”

Impact on Public Health Messaging

Additional findings showed that the inclusion of a clear and separate GambleAware health warning at the end of a 30-second gambling advert was more than twice as effective than Take Time To Think at showing people where to get support (72% vs. 30% agree). The analysis will form the basis of new guidelines providing operators with clear guidance and recommendations on how to promote safer gambling and prevent harm.

The latest report findings align with the recent Government response, which clearly set out the need for public health messaging to be integrated and reinforced to effectively reduce harm and have impact. They also follow recent research from GambleAware highlighting the role advertising plays in normalising gambling for children and young people, who described feeling their online world was “saturated” with betting promotions and gambling-like content.

Sam Starsmore, who has lived experience of gambling harm, said: “I’ve experienced first-hand the profound impact of gambling harm on every aspect of life – mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. Sadly, there are potentially millions more people out there at risk of harm, and if they or a loved one are concerned about their gambling, they need to know where they can get help.

“Gambling operators spend millions on advertising, but there isn’t nearly enough regulation and signposting to support services has to be improved. Reflecting on my personal experiences, the safer gambling messages never had an impact in providing me with a platform or direction to seek the support I crucially needed. Change is needed and could help prevent so many people from more serious consequences further down the line.”