New financial analysis from gambling industry specialist Regulus Partners has found that the amount gambling operators spent on affiliate marketing only rose by 2% between 2014 and 2017.

This made it the form of marketing with the slowest growth rate during the three-year period. Last August’s Gambling Commission announcement detailing the implementation of a new consumer protection framework, and the affiliate clampdown that followed, has seemingly contributed towards this stagnation.

In collaboration with GambleAware, the report estimated that the total spend by British gambling companies on marketing has gone up by 56% since 2014, and has now hit £1.5 billion. Most marketing activity is now on the internet, with companies spending five times more online than on television.

The report expanded: “The new figures, derived from audited accounts of the top publicly-listed operators and other available financial data for private and offshore companies, indicate the areas where gambling companies spent the most money on marketing in 2017:

  • Direct online internet marketing costs – £747 million, almost half (48%) of total gambling marketing spend,
  • Advertising through marketing ‘affiliates’ – websites, tipsters and publications who earn commission for generating new business for the gambling companies – £301 million, nearly one fifth (19%) of total expenditure,
  • TV gambling advertising – £234 million, just 15% of total gambling marketing spend,
  • Social media – £149 million, more than tripling over three years, and 10% of total gambling marketing spend,
  • Sponsorship – £60 million, double the amount spent in 2014 (£30 million).”

Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, said: “Children are growing up in a very different world than their parents. The Gambling Commission reports that 59% of 11-16 year-olds have seen gambling advertisements on social media, compared to 66% on television. One in eight 11 to 16 year-olds follow gambling companies on social media, and they are three times more likely to spend money on gambling.

“Of those who have ever played online gambling-style games, 24% follow gambling companies online. Compared to other potentially harmful activities, the rate of gambling in the past week among young people is higher than the rates of drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and taking illegal drugs.

“This underlines the need to treat gambling as a public health issue. The Regulus analysis shows that much more attention needs to be payed to the extent of gambling-related marketing online, and that internet companies and social media platforms must share in the responsibility to protect children, and to generally raise awareness of the nature of gambling, associated risks of harm, and where to go for help and advice if it is needed.”