Most of the public support a total ban on gambling adverts, while three-quarters think restrictions should be tighter than they are now, a nationwide poll has found.
Citing the survey of more than 12,000 people, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) urged the government to use its review of gambling regulation to forcibly reduce the number of ads the industry places on TV, radio and online.
Gambling is addictive and “should be no different” from tobacco in the way that its marketing is restricted, said the RSPH chief executive, Christina Marriott.
The YouGov survey found that 77% of adults support a ban on gambling ads on radio and TV before 9pm, with a similar number in favour of the same curbs applying to social media and online too.
The gambling industry spends significantly more on online ads than on TV, although commercials linked to television sport broadcasts have attracted the most public attention, amid mounting concern about the industry’s close ties to football.
The research, part of a wider survey on public health by anti-smoking group ASH, found little opposition to a total ban on all gambling ads regardless of time or medium.
Of the 12,247 people surveyed, 14% opposed such a measure, with nearly two-thirds of adults and more than half of children in favour.
A gambling advertising watershed would fall in line with recent announcements by the government that adverts for junk food will be banned in broadcast media and online before 9pm.
At present the gambling industry abides by a voluntary “whistle to whistle” code under which it doesn’t show ads during live sport and for five minutes either side of a game or race.
“Given the harm that gambling can inflict on individuals, families, workplaces and communities, we need to take a stronger stand against it being embedded into our social and cultural lives,” said Marriott.
“We no longer allow air time to other products which harm our health, like tobacco products; gambling should be no different.”
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs a cross-party group examining gambling harm, said there was “strong public and parliamentary support” for a ban.