Public concerns over how responsible gambling and casino operators are with their ‘social responsibility’ are already at an all-time high in the UK. While the UK Gambling Commission is leaving no stone unturned and committing itself to enforce stricter compliance measures for gambling operators, a recent study from Northumbria University finds that gambling operators in the country rarely promote safe gambling through their Twitter handles.
Scott Houghton, a postgrad research scholar at the Northumbria University, has said the study was aimed at assessing the nature of posts shared and promoted by gambling companies and their affiliates from their twitter accounts. It should also be noted that Twitter is by far the most actively used social media platform in the gambling industry.
The study involved investigating twitter accounts of over 40 different gambling operators including five most followed operators – Paddy Power Betfair, SkyBet, Ladbrokes Coral, Bet365, and bookmaker William Hill.
Focusing on the nature of the tweets circulated by these operators, the researchers categorically classified them into nine different segments viz, direct advertising, betting assistance, sports content, customer engagement, humor, an update of current bet status, promotional content, safer gambling and ‘other.’
Upon analyzing the data, post classification of the tweets, it was found that gambling operators rarely post tweets which could be classified to be related to ‘safe gambling.’ Less than 2 percent (1.6 percent according to the study) tweets from gambling operators were seemingly promoting safe gambling.
Also, the study found that only one affiliate posted one single tweet which could be considered to promote safe gambling.
While there has been a lot of hue and cry reverberating about tackling the growing menace of gambling addiction, the study mirrors how gambling operators think of their social responsibility to promote safe gambling practices.
The UK government is already facing sharp criticisms for turning down the latest recommendation from the UK Gambling Commission which calls for a compulsory gambling levy. Earlier, conservative representative Richard Graham had also called for mandatory gambling levy in the country.
However, in their new national policy on gambling, the commission has made it clear that they are no longer viewing gambling merely as ‘adult entertainment’ but as a potential disease. As such this historic policy shift may be followed by tougher regulation equally stricter implementation.
Underage And Minors At Risk
Another study, conducted earlier this year, aimed at investigating the increasing gambling addiction amongst UK teens, had found that at least 55,000 minors of age 11 to 17 were suffering from gambling addiction.
Shockingly enough the study revealed that one in seven minor in that age group participate in some form of gambling. It was found that over 70,000 young children are at risk 450,000 children indulging in gambling activities regularly.
In February, the Committee of Advertising Practice, responsible for penning advertising codes in the UK announced new rules aimed at protecting children from underage gambling. The new rule called for gambling ads restriction on websites or games that are popular with children.
That was a welcome step, but the question is – is it enough to solve the problem? Especially, when all popular and most-followed operators hardly talk about problem gambling or safe gambling practices from their social media channels, a lot more is yet to be done.
The findings of the report also reflect the philosophy of the top operators which drives them towards aggressive marketing of gambling products without considering their social responsibilities.
The government’s support of the gambling commission’s recommendations should not be just lip service; it should also translate to actions. The lawmakers and representatives across the UK have welcomed the recent proposals along with the new national policy of the UKGC; however, it is now for the government to implement those recommendations.