Seven major US sports leagues have formed a group dedicated to responsible sports betting advertising as gambling companies continue to spend and the threat of federal action has never been higher.
The NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, WNBA, and NASCAR make up the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising, announced Wednesday. FOX and NBCUniversal, which broadcast a number of events for those leagues and incorporate sports betting into their coverage, are also members.
Industry sources told LSR the NFL and FOX were key drivers in getting the idea off the ground, and initial discussions began nearly a year ago. But it took several conversations to get parties on the same page.
“As the legalization of sports betting spreads nationwide, we feel it is critical to establish guardrails around how sports betting should be advertised to consumers across the United States,” the coalition said in a statement. “Each member of the coalition feels a responsibility to ensure sports betting advertising is not only targeted to an appropriate audience, but also that the message is thoughtfully crafted and carefully delivered.”
Six sports betting ad principles
The group aims to promote responsible advertising based on six core principles:
- Sports betting should be marketed only to adults of legal betting age.
- Sports betting advertising should not promote irresponsible or excessive gambling or degrade the consumer experience.
- Sports betting advertisements should not be misleading.
- Sports betting advertisements should be in good taste.
- Publishers should have appropriate internal reviews of sports betting advertising.
- Publishers should review consumer complaints pertaining to sports betting ads.
Those principles reflect many of the ideologies in the American Gaming Association‘s recent marketing code update, though the industry lobby is not involved in the coalition.
“We applaud the responsible advertising commitments announced today by many of America’s biggest players in sports entertainment,” said Casey Clark, Senior Vice President of the AGA. “Closely mirroring commitments already made by AGA members through our recently updated Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, these efforts reflect a shared prioritization of responsible gaming and consumer protection. Building a sustainable legal wagering market requires alignment from the entire sports betting ecosystem, and today’s announcement is another important step.”
Betting ads facing scrutiny lately
The coalition comes as politicians across the country are considering laws to curb the wave of sports betting advertising that has grown as more states legalize.
Over the past four months:
- US Rep. Paul Tonko introduces a bill to ban sports betting ads from TV and radio
- US Sen. Richard Blumenthal calls for colleges to cut all ties with sports betting companies
- The industry lobby revises its marketing code to limit partnerships and ban terms like “risk-free”
- Maryland passed a bill to prevent colleges from being paid to sign up bettors
In Massachusetts, which reported its first betting figures yesterday, regulators considered banning sports betting ads from games to protect minors. A method for determining viewership age proved difficult to implement, however, and regulators dropped the idea.
In New York, regulators are drafting their own set of advertising restrictions. Ohio is also taking a tough stance on ad language and has already fined multiple operators including BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings for those violations.
Sports betting ad spend explodes
Five years since the Supreme Court cleared the way for states outside of Nevada to legalize sports betting, gambling ads are now prevalent on national game broadcasts and incorporated into pre-game coverage. Sports betting is live in 33 states, with several additional legal markets pending.
Sports betting operators spent $282 million on TV advertisements from September 2021 through May 2022, a 281% increase from the year prior, according to iSpot, which tracks TV advertising.
FanDuel parent company Flutter Entertainment ranked seventh in all local TV ad spending for December 2022, the most recent month available in Nielsen reports. Meanwhile, FanDuel’s main competitor is focused on a national approach.
In a recent interview, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said a more nationwide approach to advertising that could save money is more tenable now that nearly 75% of states have legalized sports betting. That would likely mean more sports betting ads in nonlegal states.
LSR Reporter Mike Mazzeo contributed to this story.