UK gambling operators are spend record amounts of cash on advertising as they seek an edge in an incredibly competitive marketplace.

According to a recent report in the Guardian, operators have already shelled out  £51.4 million ($68 million USD) on TV advertising so far in 2016. That’s a record setting pace that could see several big spikes due to big sporting events such as the recent Euro Cup and the Summer Olympic Games.

By way of comparison, the UK-facing industry spent only £118 million ($156 million USD) on TV ads for the entire year. Back in 2012, that number was a meager £81.2 million ($107.5 million USD).

This bump in ad spending shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been watching the hyper-competitive UK gambling industry over the past few years. Thanks to a rise in mobile betting and the closing of offshore tax loopholes, UK gambling operators are working with razor-thin margins. Of course, that’s not how everyone sees the situation.

For anti-gambling advocates like Derek Webb, of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, the uptick in ad spending is a sign of something much more sinister. In an interview with Guardian he said:

There are a lot of problems with this and we’re nowhere close to understanding it all. They [gambling firms] need to keep acquiring new players because the nature of it is that they [customers] go broke, or lose whatever they can afford and decide not to play anymore.

The Guardian also reports that while gambling industry ad buying is up in the UK, complaints to advertising regulators about those ads are decreasing.

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