ambling websites are targeting children by exploiting loopholes in advertising laws, a new study has warned.
A study by Queen Mary University and City University London found bookmakers were getting around new watershed laws by targeting children on social media
Promotional offers were banned from pre-9pm TV adverts last year but the authors of the report want the law to extend to bookmakers' social media accounts.
Betting firms that target new gamblers by offering generous bonuses for new sign-ups should be forced to conduct age-verification tests if they are allowed to advertise such promotions before the 9pm watershed, they argue.
It is one of a range of measures academics are demanding of the Government to tighten existing gambling regulations
Other crack-downs include restrictions on direct marketing campaigns targeting children who register with online gambling websites to play free demo games.
Celebrity endorsements of gambling should be banned, the report argues, as well as a ban on anyone under the age of 25 promoting betting activity.
The report also calls for children on Twitter and Facebook who follow or like a football team's account should not be sent sign-up offers such as free bets
Julia Hornle, professor of internet law at Queen Mary University and co-author of the report, said existing regulations governing the gambling industry are out of date with modern-day media.
She said: 'Gambling advertising is restricted if it targets children. But what if the advertising targets adults, but is equally appealing to, and consumed by, children?
'It is also ignorant of the many and varied ways young people consume modern media, particularly online.'
Professor Hornle added: 'The reality is that standards are not consistently applied to the internet and a fundamental rethink and redesign of regulation is required for advertising online.
'Secondly, regulation currently focuses too much on the impact on the general population and is partially blind to the impact on children and vulnerable persons.
'Many parents will have no idea that they're children are effectively at risk of a gambling habit. As is often the case with internet law, we are playing catch-up.'