Gambling Advertising Expenditures on the Rise in UK

Lee R. - July 30, 2016

Despite public acquiescence, some protections appear necessary.

UK gambling and betting firm advertising expenditures are escalating.

New Figures

New research shows that in 2015, UK gambling firms spent 46% more on television adverts than in 2012 with 2016 on pace to set a new spending record.

The Guardian newspaper reports that the Nielsen data figure of £118.5m for TV promos in 2015 has jumped from £82.1m in 2012 in the pre 9 PM slot in which gambling firms are permitted to advertise.

The Breakdown

Bingo operators were the biggest spenders at £56.9m, for a jump of 17% from 2014. Online casino ad expenditures saw the most substantial increase, vaulting 54% to £30.1m. Another major vertical, sports betting, came in third at £26.7m.

This Year´s Pace

As for the 2016 pace, gambling firms spent £51.4m on TV adverts over the first five months. The full year pace projects to £123m, keeping in mind that the figures do not include the spike in activity at Euro 2016.


As for the cumulative total, TV ad spending on gambling adverts between 2012 and 2015 has reached £456m. This figure includes sports betting, bingo and online casino and poker operators, but does not include the £169m spent by lottery firms during this period.

Restrictions Loosened

The rise can be traced to the UK government´s 2012 relaxation of restrictions on television gambling ads from the 2007 Gambling Act that had limited advertising permissions to National Lottery, bingo and football pools. One year after the loosening of restrictions, in 2013, UK media regulator Ofcom reported a six-fold increase in television gambling advertisements.

Complaints Reportedly Down

A wager-happy UK public does not seem to mind. In fact, gambling-related complaints have actually dropped during this era of expanded advertising, with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority receiving 956 complaints in 2015 about gambling ads versus 1,152 in 2012.

Social Concern Expressed

As for the danger of ads for an addictive activity, delegates at a conference on gambling addiction held in Cardiff last month expressed fears about the “serious social blight in this country” for which “the government still insists on light-touch regulation.”


A sufficient reinvestment of advertising revenues in social programming via government taxation is the best hope for social justification of increased competitive advertising, but rises in addiction need to be monitored as well.

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