27 Sept 2023
Over the last 12 months, the UK has seen an average of around 110,000 monthly searches* related to placing bets on I’m a Celebrity, Strictly, Bake Off, Eurovision and Love Island - with larger spikes around their finals. In a deliberate attempt to broaden their target audience, bookmakers are expanding beyond the traditional sports betting and slot machines into the world of reality tv, creating a whole new generation of problem gamblers.
The impact of the cost of living crisis
Without better regulation on advertising, bookies’ efforts to attract a more diverse range of gamblers could turn the cost of living crisis into an addiction crisis of even more epic proportions. The cost of living crisis has already been linked with a rise in ‘problem’ drug and alcohol use, and the recent rise in gambling addiction may only get worse if more isn’t done to reduce ‘irresponsible advertising’ and new betting options.
A recent YouGov survey noted that more than 1 in 20 UK adults plan to gamble more this year than in 2022 because of the cost of living, with 42% of ‘problem’ gamblers saying the same.
Unsupervised online betting: a whole new generation of gamblers
“Gambling digitally rather than in-person at bookmakers allows people to throw their money at bets while unsupervised and even intoxicated.” Rehabs UK founder and director, Lester Morse, says. “The result is that people who are hoping to improve their financial situation wind up making it a lot worse, and can easily spiral into compulsive and addictive gambling behaviours.”
“Gambling digitally rather than in-person at bookmakers allows people to throw their money at bets while unsupervised and even intoxicated.”
In 2022, 75% of patients of the National Gambling Treatment Service primarily gambled online, while 84% of GamCare helpline callers in the same period mentioned online gambling, vs 30% struggling with an offline habit. Earlier this year, the government announced proposals for ‘gambling reforms for the digital age, with Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer, noting “We recognise that people should be free to spend their money as they choose, but when gambling poses the risk of becoming a clinical addiction the government needs to ensure there are proper protections. That is why change is now needed.”
“A bit of fun”: TV betting on the rise
Reviewing the UK’s online searches, data for the past year shows that that I’m a Celebrity was the show with the greatest amount of betting interest, followed by Eurovision, with Strictly Come Dancing the third most-likely to inspire us to part with our cash in the hopes of winning more.
The most popular tv shows to bet on, according to average monthly UK Google searches:
- I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!: >52,000
- The Eurovision Song Contest: >42,000
- Strictly Come Dancing: >12,000
- Love Island: >2,500
- The Great British Bake Off: >1,000
Many of us might not think twice about placing a bet ‘for fun’ when we think we know how our favourite TV shows will turn out. But some experts argue that the frequency, and prominence, of TV advertising for gambling brands is causing the public to underestimate the risks or having a ‘flutter’ on our favourite shows.
“Academic studies have shown that young children think adverts make gambling look ‘fun’ and ‘easy’**, and unfortunately the same could be said of many adults.” Morse continues. “At the end of the day, the more that bookies work to target broader audiences with their ads and their odds, the more chances there are that someone will step into a habit they come to regret. Better advertising regulations are needed, just as have been brought in for cigarettes, alcohol and other addictive habits.”
“At the end of the day, the more that bookies work to target broader audiences with their ads and their odds, the more chances there are that someone will take a step into a habit they come to regret.”
“There’s plenty of talk about how certain drugs are a gateway to using others,” Morse goes on to say, “but very little is being said about the ever-growing range of things that people can now gamble on, and how reality TV odds, political odds and other relatively recent options are in many ways a gateway drug to problem gambling for many people already facing a cocktail of other issues.”
Here to help
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Rehabs UK is here to help. Rehabs UK is committed to continuing to support those battling alcoholism, drug addictions and behavioural addictions including gambling addiction. To access free assessments with trained treatment advisors, contact Rehabs UK.
*Source: Ahrefs Historic Keyword Data, Keywords Everywhere
***Source: Rehabsuk.com Google Analytics data 01/01/23-13/09/23