The betting ecosystem on Twitter is vast, diverse and highly active but despite the highly public nature of Twitter, much of this occurs under cover of darkness. Demos and the School of Management at the University of Bristol’s new report, Biddable Youth, aims to shed some light on what goes on. Here are our five key takeaways:
Tens of thousands of British children follow and engage with betting accounts on Twitter
We found that 41,000 UK followers of gambling related accounts are likely to be under the age of 16. These children make up 6% of followers of traditional gambling accounts and up to 17% of accounts focused on esports gambling. We also found 13,000 replies to and Retweets of gambling content sent from accounts belonging to children in the UK.
Esports betting adverts are disproportionately popular with children
Alongside gambling on traditional sports like football, we examined Tweets encouraging the placing of bets on esports, multiplayer video games played competitively by professional gamers. We found that 28% of UK users responding to esports content are likely to be children, which rises to almost half (45%) worldwide.
Gambling adverts are often focused on longer-term brand-building
While some Twitter gambling advertising is designed to elicit immediate betting, a great deal is designed with a longer-term goal of building brand awareness and affinity through engaging content likely to be shared. The most common tactics used are humour, surprise admiration and the presentation of images, facts and stories that make people feel like insiders or niche experts. This is fed by a less visible network of affiliates and tipsters sharing often huge quantities of content online.
Very little Twitter gambling advertising mentions age restriction, responsible gambling, or terms and conditions within the text of the post:
Only 7% of Tweets sent from a gambling account on Twitter include some kind of warning within the text of the Tweet, with a mere 4% advising users to gamble responsibly and 1.2% containing terms of engagement. Whilst 69% of Tweets from traditional sports accounts contain these warnings in images or videos only 2% of esports did so. Further, Twitter content age-restriction tools don’t appear to be used by many of the most prolific accounts.
The majority of the Tweets raise some regulatory concern.
68% of traditional sports and 74% of esports Tweets appear to contravene regulations in some way, such as by presenting gambling as an income source, or by encouraging gambling as a regular activity or at unsociable times.
Further, there appeared to be multiple contraventions of the Committee of Advertising Practice code. For example, the code specifically prevents the use of images of anyone under the age of 25 playing a significant role in marketing communications for gambling. Yet we found both traditional and esports Twitter adverts which featured people who looked below 25 and thus appear to be in breach of the regulations, e.g. Betspawn, for example, features gamers S1mple and Subroza who are both 21.