UK gambling firms spent 46% more on television adverts in 2015 than they spent in 2012 and are on track to set a new spending record in 2016.
According to data compiled by broadcast researchers Nielsen for The Guardian newspaper, UK gambling firms spent £118.5m on TV promos in 2015, up from just £82.1m in 2012.
Bingo operators, who are allowed to advertise on TV before the 9pm watershed, topped all other verticals last year by spending £56.9m, 17% higher than in 2014. Online casino spending was the biggest gainer, rising 54% to £30.1m, while sports betting ranked third with £26.7m.
Over the first five months of 2016, gambling firms spent £51.4m on TV adverts. Should that trend continue, full-year 2016 TV spending could top £123m. And considering that those year-to-date figures didn’t include the Euro 2016 football marketing bonanza, the final figure could easily exceed that £123m estimate.
Gambling firms’ total TV ad spending between 2012 and 2015 amounted to a hefty £456m. However, the Nielsen study was focused on sports betting, bingo and online casino and poker operators, which doesn’t take into account the £169m spent by lottery firms during this period.
The UK government relaxed its restrictions on television gambling ads – previously limited to the National Lottery, bingo and football pools – when the Gambling Act took effect in 2007. By 2013, UK media regulator Ofcom reported that the relaxation of these rules had led to a six-fold increase in the number of gambling adverts on the telly.
While the number of gambling ads on TV has skyrocketed, the number of complaints related to gambling ads has gone in the other direction. In 2015, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority received 956 complaints about gambling ads compared to 1,152 in 2012.