The internet raises substantial challenges for policy makers in regulating gambling harm. The proliferation of gambling advertising on Twitter is one such challenge. However, the sheer scale renders it extremely difficult to investigate using conventional techniques. In this article, the authors present three U.K. Twitter gambling advertising studies using both big data analytics and manual content analysis to explore the volume and content of gambling ads, the age and engagement of followers, and compliance with U.K. advertising regulations. They analyze 890,000 organic ads from 417 accounts along with data on 620,000 followers and 457,000 engagements (replies and retweets). They find that approximately 41,000 U.K. children follow Twitter gambling accounts, and that two-thirds of gambling advertising tweets fail to fully comply with regulations. Ads for e-sports gambling are markedly different from those for traditional gambling (such as on soccer, casinos, and lotteries) and appear to have strong appeal for children, with 28% of engagements with e-sports gambling ads coming from users under 16 years old. The authors make six policy recommendations: spotlight e-sports gambling advertising, create new social media–specific regulations, revise regulation on content appealing to children, use technology to block users under 18 years from seeing gambling ads, require ad labeling of organic gambling tweets, and deploy better enforcement.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research on which this article is based was funded by GambleAware, a national charity instructed by Government to commission research into gambling in Great Britain. GambleAware is funded through contributions from the gambling industry, but decisions about what research to fund are made by the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG, formerly the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board [RSGB]), a wholly independent group that provides advice on gambling policy and research to Government. In September 2016, the ABSG (then RGSB) and GambleAware published a Research Commissioning and Governance Procedure that describes how research priorities are set and commissioned, in isolation from the gambling industry.
© The Author(s) 2021.
- big data analytics
- gambling advertising
- online betting
- Social media marketing