The following is an op-ed from Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs at the American Gaming Association.
Last spring, the US Supreme Court ruled to allow states the chance to protect consumers through safe, legal sports betting markets. The argument was clear – the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was a resounding failure, sparking explosive growth in the illegal market.
Where US sports betting stands
In the year that followed, new legal markets across the country have seen great success. Just as our industry led the fight to overturn the ban, the American Gaming Association (AGA) is again setting the standard for a post-PASPA world by creating the first ever responsible marketing code for sports wagering.
The expansion of legal sports betting has been swift and impressive. At the time of this writing, eight states now have legal markets and six more states plus Washington DC have authorized sports betting and dozens more pursued legislation in 2019. In places where single-game betting is legal, consumers have enthusiastically wagered nearly $8 billion on sports, $3 billion of it outside of Nevada.
Additionally, 35 new official partnerships have been formed between leagues, gaming companies and teams, including all four major sports leagues.
More than just pushing for legal sports betting
As legal sports betting continues to spread, AGA and its members are committed to eliminating the illegal market and extending their longstanding commitment to responsibility in gaming to sports betting marketing. Like other forms of gaming, sports wagering is an entertainment activity that should only be enjoyed in legal markets by responsible adults.
As such, we are leading the way to make sure legal sports betting is marketed appropriately.
AGA’s new responsible marketing code sets a standard for operators, leagues, broadcasters and businesses involved in legal sports betting. Created in close coordination with our members, the code revolves around principles that promote respect for the law and our community partners, responsible gaming and sound decision making – all tenets that help eliminate the illegal market.
Specifically, the code is designed to respect the legal age for sports wagering, support responsible gaming, control digital media and websites and monitor compliance.
To ensure only the right people see sports betting advertising, our members will only advertise in media outlets that appeal primarily to those above the legal age. Further, sports wagering messages – including logos, trademarks or brand names – will only be used on clothing, toys or game equipment intended for of-age audiences. This commitment also extends to only promoting sports wagering in media outlets not owned by colleges or universities.
Responsible gaming is important
In our longstanding effort to promote responsible gaming, AGA members will encourage responsible participation in sports wagering, with all communications containing a responsible gaming message, along with a toll-free help number. This standard will help increase the number of people who are aware of responsible gaming resources, as nine in ten casual and avid bettors already are.
All these efforts are moot if we do not reach consumers where they are – online. Each AGA-member website with advertising or marketing materials will carry a responsible gaming message and provide resources for those seeking help.
Also, as we continue to work with state regulators and law enforcement to prevent illegal gambling, our members’ websites will screen for individuals who live in jurisdictions that have not legalized sports wagering. At the end of the day, these standards are only as good as their enforcement, so we will train our members and their employees and monitor for compliance.
Although these explicit promises are new, the essence of them is not. AGA members already adhere to our longstanding Responsible Gaming Code of Conduct, and they have their own extensive corporate marketing plans that consider these core tenets, too. At the end of the day, these standards are a way to raise the bar for everyone within our industry – AGA member or otherwise.
AGA will continue to serve as a resource and community partner as more states pursue and launch legal sports betting. We have a shared responsibility to get this right, by promoting responsible gaming and working together to eliminate the illegal market. It is truly exciting to see how much has changed in a year, and how bright the future of legal sports betting is in America.