The Real World Cup Winner? Online Gambling.

Ubiquitous ads for betting fuel big business, but also pose costs to society. 

The longer England captain Harry Kane and his team stay in the World Cup, the bigger the boost to the U.K. economy. But if there's one industry that stands to win whatever happens, it's betting.

Brits are set to wager an estimated 2.5 billion pounds ($3.31 billion) on the World Cup, according to data published by the London Times, or a 50-percent increase on the previous tournament. That number is almost exactly the sum fans are estimated to spend on food, drink, merchandise, pubs, clubs and cafes combined — if England were to win.

The boom should give pause for thought, not least because 2 million people in the U.K. are deemed at risk of becoming problem gamblers. Curbing advertising, without cracking down on betting platforms, is a good way to nudge consumers while still leaving their choice intact.

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