Major US Sports Leagues Pledge to Back Responsible Betting Advertising

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A new ad-hoc group, “The Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising,” was created this week to ensure that sports betting advertising and promotion is done responsibly and that it doesn’t target minors.

The National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), Women’s National Baseball Association (WNBA), National Hockey League (NHL), National Assn. for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR), and Major League Soccer (MLS) are all members of the new coalition. Television broadcasters Fox and NBCUniversal have also signed on.

“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,” read a joint 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.”

Currently, 33 states (including Washington, D.C.) allow legal sports gambling, and for the majority, the age requirement is 21 years old. Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Wyoming allow legal sports betting at age 18.

The Six Principles of the Coalition

The coalition creation was led by NFL VP of Public Policy and Government Affairs Jonathan Nabavi, and it lists six core principles used to guide its advertising policies.

  • 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 advertising should not be misleading;
  • Sports betting advertising should be in good taste;
  • Publishers should have appropriate internal reviews of sports betting advertising;
  • Publishers should review consumer complaints pertaining to sports betting advertising.

Formation of the coalition of sports leagues and media companies comes more than a month after the casino industry, led by the American Gaming Association, created a new campaign to promote responsible sports wagering. In early April, the UFC signed on to the AGA’s campaign.

The Creation of the Coalition Brings Praise

The National Council on Problem Gambling has promised to work with the coalition. “The National Council of Problem Gambling commends the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising for recognizing the importance of responsible sports betting advertising, and taking steps to lead the industry in proactive change to protect consumers,” said executive director Keith Whyte.

He added, “We believe that with continued collaboration we can better mitigate problem gambling related harm.”

Kenny Gersh, EVP of media and business development for Major League Baseball, said, “Forming this coalition with fellow leaders in sports and entertainment is another important step for our industry as legal sports betting continues to grow. While providing new fan engagement opportunities to enjoy our sport in more ways, we have to be mindful and deliberate with how these sports betting options are presented and to whom they are directed.”

To coincide with the Super Bowl in February, US Representative Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) introduced the “Betting on Our Future Act.” He said the act was modeled after the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, and created national standards for cigarette packaging and advertising.

Tonko’s proposa; calls for the prohibition of sportsbook advertising on any electronic medium that is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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