Gambling regulators are facing increased social media challenges in regards to working to minimise gambling-related harm, according to a new report from the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) and think-tank Demos.
Research by the two parties identified 877 accounts on social media network Twitter that promote gambling, with more than 900,000 British Twitter users following at least one promotional account.
The report also found that if a Twitter user was following the three most prolific gambling accounts, they would receive a promotional message on average once every 240 seconds.
Reflecting on the results, the RGT and Demos said the report highlights issues such as the range of online products and sources that promote gambling – such as through applications operating with digital currency or online tipsters, who may be paid to promote gambling as affiliates but are not subject to the licensing that covers traditional gambling.
Other challenges include a small number of highly intensive followers of online gambling accounts as well as a limited penetration by online efforts to assist and advise those wishing to avoid problem gambling.
“The RGT is committed to minimising gambling-related harm, and the interaction between social media and gambling is an increasingly important consideration,” RGT chief executive Marc Etches said.
“There is a need to maintain a careful balance between the freedom to promote legitimate commerce and the need to protect vulnerable people.
“We hope that this report will be helpful to policy makers, regulators and all those working to minimise gambling-related harm.”
Carl Miller, research director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, added: “This study shines important new light on the increasingly prominent digital dimension of gambling, which poses new and specific challenges for policy-makers and regulators.
“As we move so much of our lives online, our research at Demos has underscored just how important it is for policies to evolve, to acknowledge the new ways in which we as a society are engaging with information.
“Clearly, more needs to be done to ensure that messages countering problematic gambling are able to reach people where they can best be heard and have the greatest impact.”
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