Gambling addicts who search for help via iPhones get bombarded with adverts for betting firms instead
- The adverts are against Gambling Commission rules, which say ‘all marketing of gambling products must be undertaken in a socially responsible manner’
- Betting firms claim they use technology to prevent vulnerable gamblers, including children, from seeing marketing that encourage them to bet
- Apple’s search algorithm continues to direct gambling addicts to gambling apps
Gambling addicts who searched for phone apps to help them quit have been bombarded by adverts for online casinos.
Those using Apple’s App Store to look for software to stop them betting on their iPhone were offered free plays, encouraging them to gamble.
Adverts for Ladbrokes Casino, Virgin Games casino and 888 Casino appeared top of the list when the Daily Mail entered searches for ‘gambling stop’ or ‘block gambling’.
Apps that block betting transactions from smartphones or offer help to recovering addicts were further down, underneath the sponsored listings.
Gambling addicts searching for anti-gambling apps are being targeted with gambling ads
The adverts could fall foul of Gambling Commission rules, which say ‘all marketing of gambling products must be undertaken in a socially responsible manner’.
Campaigners say the adverts target the most vulnerable when they are trying to quit gambling.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairman of the parliamentary group on gambling, said: ‘If this doesn’t prove what we most feared, nothing will.
‘The industry needs to wake up to reality, and regulators need to stop sitting on their hands because when this pandemic is over these firms will be held accountable for any damage done to vulnerable gamblers.’
Alex Macey, chairman of Gamvisory, a campaign group of former gambling addicts, said: ‘This abhorrent behaviour goes to show how low some companies will go to market their products.
‘To make this worse, it directly targets the most vulnerable. It’s high time the Gambling Commission took action. Apple should ask if it wants to profit from this type of advertising.’
Betting firms claim they use technology to prevent vulnerable gamblers, including children, from seeing marketing messages that might encourage them to bet.
But Apple’s search algorithm continues to direct them to gambling apps.
STOCK PHOTO: Gambling on mobile phone device. Gambling ads are targeting addicts
The Ladbrokes advert, which appeared when searching ‘gambling block’, offered the chance to play roulette, blackjack and slots.
An advert for the Virgin Games app, offering ’30 free spins when you play £10′, came top on a search for ‘gambling help’, while ‘gambling stop’ brought up 888 Casino, offering an £88 bonus to players without the need to deposit money.
In October, the Advertising Standards Authority ordered Google to remove an advert by an online casino that appeared in a search for ‘gambling help’.
Ladbrokes and Virgin Casino – which is owned by Gamesys and unrelated to Sir Richard Branson’s empire – pay Apple for their products to be shown first when certain search words are entered.
GVC, which owns Ladbrokes, said: ‘We are deeply concerned that an advert for one of our products should appear in connection with safer gambling search terms.
We are liaising closely with Apple to understand how this could have happened and have suspended our Apple search advertising with immediate effect.’
Gamesys apologised for the ‘misplaced’ adverts. ‘We flagged the issue to Apple as soon as we became aware and have paused all adverts with them as we fully investigate,’ it said. Apple was contacted for comment.
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