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Influencers and Gambling Ads: A Dangerous Game for Young Minds

In today’s era where digital platforms have become the mainstay of communication and entertainment, a concerning trend has emerged in the intersection of social media and gambling industries. Recent studies, including a notable one funded by the Australian Research Council, have shed light on a disturbing phenomenon: the use of celebrities and influencers in gambling advertisements is making gambling seem appealing and fun to children as young as 12. This insight demands an urgent reassessment of how such endorsements influence the perceptions and behaviours of the youth.

Home / Influencers and Gambling Ads: A Dangerous Game for Young Minds

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The Surge in Youth Gambling Influenced by their Role Models

The pervasive reach of social media has dramatically reshaped our engagement with entertainment, dissemination of information, and even our attitudes towards certain vices. Particularly susceptible are children, whose developing minds are highly impressionable to the narratives propagated through these digital channels.

Celebrity endorsements, especially from high-profile personalities such as the iconic basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, wield considerable influence in normalising gambling practices. Their participation in advertising campaigns for gambling platforms effectively communicates a message of endorsement and acceptability of gambling, making it appear not just socially acceptable but also aspirational. Such representations obscure the real dangers and potential harms of gambling, instead suggesting that engaging in gambling could lead to a lifestyle filled with glamour and luxury as portrayed in these advertisements.

Compounding this issue is the startling statistic provided by Gambling Help Online, which underscores the impact of gambling’s glamorisation among the youth. There was a notable 16% surge in the number of individuals aged 24 and under seeking assistance from the help service during the 2022-23. Specifically, in Victoria, approximately 600 out of the 2,136 requests for help came from young people aged between 15 and 24.

This data not only highlights the growing concern of gambling among younger demographics but also emphasises the urgent need for interventions aimed at mitigating the influence of gambling advertisements featuring celebrities and influencers on vulnerable young minds.

The Urgent Need for Gambling Ad Regulation

Amidst growing concerns about the impact of gambling advertisements on the youth, there’s a palpable call for the Australian federal government to enact stricter advertising regulations. Stemming from a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling, recommendations have been put forward advocating for a sweeping ban on gambling advertisements and a thorough critique of celebrity endorsements. This initiative is crucial in a landscape where digital influencers wield significant sway over young and impressionable minds, effectively glamorising gambling activities.

Research undertaken by distinguished scholars from Deakin, Wollongong, and Curtin universities has brought to light a disturbing reality: the portrayal of gambling as a harmless, glamorous, and enjoyable activity by celebrities and influencers is shaping young minds to view gambling in a positive light. This depiction significantly undermines the awareness of the associated risks and negative consequences.

In these studies even a 12-year-old expressed an increased interest in gambling, swayed by the endorsement of admired public figures. The observations of a 16-year-old, who pointed out the staged nature of these ads and their failure to represent the true stakes of gambling, underscore the manipulative strategies at play. The phenomenon points to the compelling influence of such advertisements, driving home the necessity for immediate regulatory action to protect young Australians from potential gambling harm.

A New Direction: Setting New Norms for Ethical Gambling Advertising

The intertwining of gambling promotions with endorsements from celebrities and social media influencers poses a significant challenge that demands a comprehensive response. This situation calls for enhanced advertising guidelines, heightened awareness of gambling’s potential adverse effects, and a thorough review of the moral responsibilities held by those endorsing these practices.

It’s vital for those in the gambling sector to engage in ongoing conversations and actions designed to protect vulnerable groups from being misled by the portrayal of gambling as harmless fun, a portrayal often amplified by well-known personalities in today’s online world.

Also, the ethical concerns associated with celebrities and influencers endorsing gambling activities are significant. It’s important to consider how these public figures influence young people. Criticism from a young person, pointing out how celebrities often prioritise their earnings over the well-being of their young followers, serves as a powerful reminder of the ethical responsibilities that come with such influence. This highlights the need for advertising that is ethically sound, focusing on identifying and mitigating the potential harms of gambling.

Moving forward, the combined efforts of government officials, those working within the gambling industry, and the wider community will be essential in creating an ethical framework for gambling adverts, with the aim of safeguarding the well-being and future of younger generations.

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