Citation Purves R, Critchlow N, Morgan A, Stead M & Dobbie F (2020) Examining the frequency and nature of gambling marketing in televised broadcasts of professional sporting events in the United Kingdom. Public Health. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2020.02.012
Abstract Objective: Gambling operators in the United Kingdom have introduced a voluntary ban on adverts broadcast during televised sport before 21:00 (the 'whistle-to-whistle' ban). To inform debates around the potential effectiveness of this ban, we examine the frequency and nature of gambling marketing in televised broadcasts across professional sporting events.
Study Design: Frequency analysis of verbal and visual gambling marketing references during television broadcasts of football (n=5), tennis, Formula 1, boxing and rugby union (each n=1) from 2018.
Methods: For each gambling reference, we coded: whether it appeared in-play or out-of-play; location (e.g. pitch-side advertising); format (e.g. branded merchandise); duration (seconds); number of identical references visible simultaneously; brand; and presence of age restriction or harm reduction messages.
Results: Boxing contained the most gambling references, on average, per broadcast minute (4.70 references), followed by football (2.75), rugby union (0.55), and tennis (0.11). Formula 1 contained no gambling references. In boxing, references most frequently appeared within the area-of-play. For football and rugby union, references most frequently appeared around the pitch border or within the area-of-play (e.g. branded shirts). Only a small minority of references were for adverts during commercial breaks that would be subject to the whistle-to-whistle ban(e.g. 2% of references in football). Less than 1% of references in boxing, and only 3% of references in football, contained age restriction or harm-reduction messages.
Conclusions: As gambling sponsorship extends much beyond adverts in commercial breaks, the 'whistle-to-whistle' ban will have limited effect on gambling exposure. Gambling sponsorship activities rarely contain harm reduction messages.