The American Gaming Association made some key changes to its Responsible Marketing Code for sports betting ads on Tuesday, including a prohibition on “risk-free” bet promotion.
Some of the changes reflect rules and regulations from recently launched sports betting states like Massachusetts and Ohio. The AGA also formalized an annual review process for reviewing and updating the Code as necessary.
The changes include a three-month grace period for operators that are members of the AGA. All marketing must be in compliance with the new code by July 1.
Changes to sports betting ad rules
The most significant change to the Code is the end of the use of “risk-free” betting in advertisements. The movement to cut out the use of free or risk-free began with the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which handed out six-figure fines to show it was serious.
Also, the Code also strengthened protections for college-aged audiences. Partnerships with colleges that “promote, market or advertise sports wagering activity” are now prohibited.
There are two caveats to the college rule:
- Promoting sports betting to alumni networks
- Content focused on responsible gambling and problem gambling awareness
AGA OK with ‘Can’t Lose’ language?
There was a bit of a surprise at the end of the release: details of a complaint concerning PENN Entertainment‘s Barstool Sportsbook and its “Can’t Lose Parlay.” The complaint from February 2021 was filed by Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
White said the language “directly violates” language in the Code that says “no message should suggest that social, financial or personal success is guaranteed by engaging in sports wagering.
PENN took the same approach with the AGA that its CEO Jay Snowden argued to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during PENN’s license review. That is essentially saying the language is just a joke. It also noted the offer was “clearly housed in the sportsbook where it is patently obvious that it is a wager.”
The company’s responses were forwarded to Whyte in March 2021. No further action was requested on the complaint.
Who must follow sports betting ad rules?
The AGA changes do not span the entire US sports betting industry. The organization can only police the operators that are AGA members.
Still, a good chunk of sportsbooks and their parent companies, as well as suppliers, are AGA members:
- Bally’s (BallyBet)
- Delaware North (Betly)
- Entain & MGM (BetMGM)
- Greenwood Racing (betPARX)
- PENN Entertainment (Barstool)
- Rush Street Gaming (associated with BetRivers)
- Wynn (WynnBET)