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Chapter One Need urgent help?

Easy to start, hard to stop

The UK gambling industry spends £1.5billion a year on advertising, much of which is designed to make gambling look like a fun, social, low risk activity.

Two characters graphic - blue and orange

The truth is that gambling is risky and can be harmful

Gambling adverts are everywhere. On billboards, social media, football shirts, during TV programmes and on shop fronts. They are seen everyday by millions of people.

Many adverts show glamorous and social lifestyles. Focusing on what could be possible. It is not a requirement for adverts to show the exact likelihood of winning, and they don’t provide any information about the risks of gambling, or how harmful different types of gambling are.

Gambling adverts often include offers of free bets or free spins on instant win games. Research shows that these encourage people to start gambling on new, more harmful products or to place bets that they wouldn’t otherwise do.

Seeing gambling adverts makes it seem as though everyone is doing it and that it is a normal part of everyday life


Adverts make me think gambling is a place of escapism, makes it seem like everyone is doing it and it's a social activity. They make gambling look friendly and risk-free. They always have things like £10 free, so it's really easy for people to get pulled into it, not realising the risk.
Young person from Manchester
Graphic of man in front of a betting shop, supermarket, bingo hall, casino and house with TV that says 'sports bet!'.

Seeing gambling premises, products and advertisements can feel like a constant reminder.

The accessibility of a gambling product can increase its potential harm. Bookmakers, bingo halls and gaming centres are often clustered in areas with high footfall. Lottery and scratch cards are deliberately placed in prominent positions in shops and newsagents. It can be difficult to avoid gambling products, even if you try to.

Online gambling is available 24 hours a day, every day of the week from anywhere with internet connectivity. This allows for reinforcement of addiction at any time, day or night.

Gambling online also allows for greater targeting by a gambling company to condition the brain. Direct marketing can be sent through text messages, apps or emails. Data shows that people suffering harm are nine times more likely to be offered free bets than people who are not, and that those people receive on average seven offers a week.

The online environment carries an additional risk as it can be entirely solitary, with no one apart from a gambling company available to step in and ask if someone is okay.

Find out more about how gambling might be impacting you and where you can go to get help