The UK gambling sector has been urged to improve its standards on age verification, as a result of research into the problem.

Gambling organisation GambleAware commissioned the research, which was carried out by polling agency Ipsos MORI and the University of Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing. According to the findings, the regular exposure of children to gambling promotions can change their perception of gambling as an activity. The report found that 41,000 followers of gambling company social media accounts in the UK were under-16. And an alarming 17% of the followers of e-sports gambling accounts were estimated to be underage.

Speaking about the findings, the CEO at GambleAware, Marc Etches, said that gambling was an adult activity, but the research shows that it is becoming a part of normal life for many children and young adults, with potentially serious results:

“This constant exposure to it through advertising and marketing, or via close friends and family, has the potential for serious long-term implications for children and young people.”

Etches went on to say that there was a need for social media giants to improve their tools for age screening, and for companies to make better use of the existing tools. He also emphasised that problem gambling was a public health issue, that can have a serious impact on mental health, and flagged up the support available through the National Gambling Treatment Service.

The report came up with a range of recommendations, including the idea that the gambling industry should put more emphasis on the need to produce clear and more effective safe gambling campaigns. It also suggested that more effort needed to be put into education programmes, and that advertising technology be significantly improved to prevent young people being exposed to gambling adverts.

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