Online Gambling Promotions are No Playing Matter
Between entertaining gimmicks and all-star endorsements, it’s easy to see how online gambling promotions could catch the attention of those under the legal betting age. While online gambling is illegal in Florida, promotions are still reaching minors and introducing them to gambling before they’re of age to make informed decisions. It’s important to learn more about how these promotions are inadvertently reaching kids, how they lead to problematic behavior, and the normalization of gambling ads during popular sporting events.
Reaching the Wrong Audience
Most online platforms have some regulations regarding gambling ads and minors, but what happens when these platforms aren’t enforcing their own policies? In 2021, the Tech Transparency Company ran an experiment where they submitted ads to Facebook that targeted teens with age-inappropriate content, such as gambling and alcohol, and found all their ads approved within hours. Intentional or not, there are commonly jokes, memes, celebrity and athlete endorsements, and imagery that appeal to younger audiences.
Not only are children more exposed to ads of this nature, they’re also more able to act on these ads than before. This generation is quick to adopt the newest technologies and can access online gambling sites due to poor or no age verification or through a parent’s account. And, in some cases, children are not monitored by adults when on their devices.
Gambling Ads Affect Minors
The earlier children are exposed to gambling advertisements and opportunities the more likely they are to develop compulsive gambling behaviors in the future. Research shows that regular exposure to gambling ads can change a minor’s perception of the activity and make it normalized at a younger age. In fact, children introduced to gambling by age 12 are four times more likely to compulsively gamble. Because a minor’s brain isn’t fully developed, they lack a refined sensitivity to risky behaviors when presented. Currently, 4-5% of minors ages 12-17 meet the criteria for a gambling problem, with an additional 10-14% at risk of developing one.
How Major Sporting Events Could Cause Problems
It’s that time of year when many exciting sporting events are anticipated, from the big football game final to March Madness. While sports betting isn’t legal in the Sunshine State for anyone, children, teens, and others are still being bombarded with commercials promoting betting while watching their favorite teams compete. It’s become the norm for minors to see athletes endorse gambling, which can be harmful for impressionable young fans who view these players as idols.
Working Together for Education and Prevention
Whether your child or someone you know has been asking questions about sports betting commercials or displaying concerning behaviors, the FCCG has the resources you need to protect those at-risk or experiencing the impacts of problem gambling. Your One Sure Thing can help you, a minor and others to understand the risks of gambling addiction by contacting the Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321-978-0555), emailing (email@example.com), chatting (gamblinghelp.org), or visiting us on social media.
- Mayer, Beth Ann. “Kids as Young as 11 Are Becoming Addicted to Online Gambling.” Parents, 23 Dec. 2021, https://www.parents.com/kids/safety/kids-as-young-as-11-are-becoming-addicted-to-online-gambling/.
- Davies, Rob. “Children More Likely to Become Gamblers Due to High Volume of Betting Ads.” The Guardian, 27 Mar. 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/27/children-more-likely-to-become-gamblers-due-to-high-volume-of-betting-ads.
- High School Gambling Fact Sheet. National Council on Problem Gambling, https://www.ncpgambling.org/files/HS_Fact_Sheet.pdf.