On Wednesday 21st October the Bishop of St Albans received two written answers to questions to Government on gambling advertising and gambling addiction:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Advertising Standards Agency, Trends in exposure to TV ads during COVID-19, published on 8 October; and what steps they are taking to reduce young people’s exposure to gambling adverts. [HL9068]
Baroness Barran: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently published data on TV viewing patterns and exposure to TV advertising during the initial lockdown period (16 March – 3rd May 2020). That data shows that both adults and children spent more time watching TV during lockdown compared to the same period in 2019, with average viewing time per week 20% higher amongst adults and 17% higher amongst children. Similarly, exposure to all TV advertising showed a year-on-year increase of 16% amongst adults, and 9% amongst children. Looking at gambling adverts specifically, children saw an average of 4 ads per week during early lockdown, compared to 2.7 ads per week during that same period in 2019, with adverts for lotteries and bingo accounting for most of this increased exposure. Longer term trends show that children’s exposure to advertising fell from a peak of 4.4 TV ads per week in 2013 to 2.5 per week in 2019.
Gambling advertising is subject to strict controls on content and placement. Operators must ensure that their ads are not targeted at children and in 2019 the ASA launched a programme of avatar monitoring to identify operators failing to effectively target ads away from children online. In addition, following work with the Gambling Commission, the industry has committed to make better use of advertising technology to target adverts away from children online and on social media. The sixth edition of the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible advertising, which came into force this month, requires operators to ensure advertising is targeted only at those over 25 years old on social media and to age-gate operator YouTube channels and content. These measures build on last year’s voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban on betting ads shown during live sport shown before the watershed. Figures published by the industry indicate that children’s exposure to gambling advertising during live sport has fallen by 70% since the introduction of the ban.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to introduce an NHS-led and commissioned treatment system to treat gambling addiction. [HL9196]
Lord Bethell: The NHS Long Term Plan made a commitment to expand the geographical coverage of NHS services for people with serious gambling problems.
In addition to the existing National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, the National Health Service has committed to opening an additional 14 new problem gambling clinics by 2023/24. The NHS Northern Gambling Service in Leeds opened in 2019 and now has satellite sites in Manchester and Sunderland. The NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan has committed to spending a total of £6 million on gambling-related harms by 2023/24.
As part of the Long Term Plan, NHS England and NHS Improvement are improving referral routes for mental health services in primary care, by focusing on the integration of services.