Top NJ Regulator Drops Stern Warning On Sportsbook Advertising Blitz

Posted on September 14, 2021
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Written By on September 14, 2021

The NFL is back and so are the sportsbook ads. 

Operators are planning to spend $1 billion on advertising NFL betting this season, per Front Office Sports. But operators need to curb themselves or face a backlash, key regulators warned on Monday.

Speaking on a GeoComply webinar Monday, David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), warned some marketing departments were operating “unchecked.” Specifically, Rebuck highlighted:

  • The sheer level of advertising
  • Overly confusing terms and conditions for bonuses
  • Not enough focus on responsible gaming in ads

Stark warning for sportsbook advertising

Rebuck offered this warning to operators:

“Don’t allow your marketing staff to operate unchecked. They can get you in a lot of trouble because they have different objectives to you. They are not thinking about compliance. We understand the business need. They want to attract people and be creative but they cannot be unchecked. 

“If they are, they will be checked by us and it will happen in a way you won’t be happy with.”

As an example, Rebuck said in the early days of NJ sports betting, his staff would go through the terms of every sportsbook promotion. They stopped that practice given the number of operators, but that could change if standards do not improve. 

“Do I have to go back to blocking promotions until they are pre-approved by the state of New Jersey?” Rebuck asked. “That would be very challenging for the state but if I am forced to do it, I will do it.”

Similar story in Colorado sports betting

Dan Hartman, Rebuck’s counterpart in Colorado, echoed a similar sentiment. He said he was already hearing from concerned legislators about the hailstorm of advertising.

“They are saying ‘this is too much, we did not expect this much’,” Hartman said. “Sportsbooks need to find a balance because the last thing you want is to have advertising legislated.”

The webinar highlighted two parallels for a potential backlash: daily fantasy sports in 2015 and the UK gambling industry.

Establish best practice on sportsbook advertising

Both regulators called on operators to work together through trade groups like the AGA or IDEA Growth to come up with an advertising best-practice handbook. 

“You shouldn’t be waiting for regulators to drive the bus,” Rebuck added. “You should be at the head of table driving action with your vendors, contractors and marketers. And strive for best practices.

“Don’t race to the bottom, race to the top.”

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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