A study revealed that about half of the players around the world who participate in electronic sports betting tweets are under 16 years old. The report aroused such concern that regulators, operators and technology companies have been urged to act as soon as possible.
The investigation carried out by the British firm, Demos together with the Department of Administration of the University of Bristol, found that in the United Kingdom 28% of users who retweet or respond to a sports betting tweet, are under 16.
This percentage exceeds five times the number of Twitter users who regularly interact with regular bookmaker publications. In this regard, when calculating global participation, it is estimated that the percentage of children under 16 who participate in betting tweets, increases to 45%.
The study also revealed that 74% of tweets related to electronic sports and 68% of traditional sports tweets “seemed to not comply with advertising regulations in some way.”
Examples of alleged violations of the law presented by investigators included the presentation of the game as a source of income, stimulating the game at times not associated and, mainly, showing a child under 25 in the game advertising.
“Since most professional esports players are in this age group, the rules make fun again and again,” the report said.
The research called ‘Biddable Youth Report’, was published on August 20 and it analyzed more than 888,000 tweets linked to sports betting, during a period of 9 months in 2018.
The recommendations made by the study include a call to operators to increase the rigor in the mechanisms of age verification. Like advertising technology, so that regulators also tighten the rules of participation in the game.
Advertisers and technology companies are urged to work together, so that both terms and conditions of insertion in the messaging are more fluid. While recommending to build a free database provided by technology companies with sufficient capacity to search advertising gambling games on different platforms.
According to the study, there should also be more visible and frequent references regarding risk and age restrictions in gambling advertising. It is recommended to conduct more research related to the type of advertisement that most attracts children to participate in sports betting.
Agnes Nairn, co-author of the report and professor at the Department of Administration at the University of Bristol, stated that
“with the massive growth in the electronic sports industry, unless action is taken, we can only expect this figure to increase as sports and play seem inextricably linked.”
She said that in-depth analysis of the contents of the advertising Tweets of gambling games leads researchers to believe that electronic sports games where children participate have two characteristics:
“it is online where parents will not see it and is using a Smart content marketing such as funny GIFS, memes, funny photos and stories, designed to implicitly attract and influence young people.”
“We discovered that large volumes of messages are produced to attract children especially, with thousands of children in the UK who follow and respond to this content. This report also shows that gambling advertisers are regularly making fun of online advertising regulations,”
said Josh Smith, also co-author of the study and principal investigator for the Center for Social Network Analysis.
He added that they hope that
“this report will serve as a call to action, both for technology companies to make it easier for gambling customers to get a clear picture of what they are doing, and for regulators who must continue to ensure that these new actors comply with regulation. “
According to forecasts in the report, the esports betting market for 2020 will be worth almost $ 30,000 million. Likewise, for Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, one in eight young people between the ages of 11 and 16 is a follower of a social media betting company.
He said technology companies should strengthen the verification processes to participate in sports betting games in order to protect children.
“It also highlights the need for clearer and more regular messages about the risks of gambling that will be shown in online gambling ads,” added.