GGB is committed to providing updated news and analysis on our weekly news site,

Getting it Right

Responsibility in sports betting advertising

Getting it Right

When the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting in May 2018, an increase of sportsbook advertisements was inevitable as states began legalizing sports betting one-by-one across the country. Now, with 30 states and Washington, D.C. offering live, legal sports wagering markets, sportsbook commercials with big payouts and eye-catching promotions have become ubiquitous—whether you’re tuning into NFL Sunday, watching the World Series or catching up on your favorite sitcom.

This advertising serves an important role: drawing customers from the predatory, illegal market. With a 25-year head start (no thanks to the federal government), customers are left confused about where to bet legally. Advertising—whether on TV, social media or out of home—serves as a means for player education.

The massive investment in customer acquisition is also part of being a new industry. As the market matures, the spend will naturally level off. You only have to look to the Nevada airwaves to see the difference.

However, the current saturation of advertisements and promotions is drawing increased scrutiny from consumers, legislators and the media. And regulators in states like New Jersey and Colorado are taking notice of these advertisements too, with a focus on responsible gaming concerns.

We’ve already seen this game play out in Europe, and the results have not been kind to gaming companies across the pond. The pendulum has swung from a European sports betting and online gaming boom to backlash that has led to a regulatory crackdown.

In Italy, gaming companies are under a total advertising ban, and in Spain, gaming companies can’t advertise on TV outside of the early hours of the morning. In the U.K., only 7 percent of Britons have a positive view of the gambling sector, which has heightened calls for a ban on gaming companies sponsoring sports teams—an estimated $55 million annual revenue stream for the English Premier League and a massive advertising medium for the U.K. gaming industry. In response to public pressures, U.K. gaming companies have already self-imposed a whistle-to-whistle ban on TV advertising during competitions and committed 20 percent of advertising to education.

We should view Europe as a cautionary tale for what could happen in the U.S. if we don’t take advantage of this window in time to get sports betting in America right.

The American Gaming Association and our members have been on the front foot of this issue, establishing a Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, which sets self-imposed restrictions on advertising mediums, content and target audiences. The AGA’s Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly campaign is also convening the industry around responsible gaming education, including sports leagues and media companies, who all play a role in determining the quantity of advertisements consumers see.

Trends are also starting to point to a seasonality for sportsbook advertising saturation. Not a single sportsbook has been inside or near the top 10 advertisers since the third week of the NFL season. And gaming industry CEOs have publicly acknowledged that current levels of industry advertising are financially unsustainable.

But our efforts must continue to evolve as the market expands and matures. The AGA and our members are working on solutions to this challenge by researching American and policymaker attitudes around sports betting advertising and convening the sports betting ecosystem to ensure we continue to build a sustainable market. Luckily, we have more than 30 years of robust responsible gaming experience to rely on.

If the pandemic has taught us anything as an industry, it’s that when we are unified, we can solve any challenge. And that’s just what we’re doing.

    Related Articles

  • Keep It Going

    The gaming industry’s hot streak is being threatened by illegal gambling, sports betting glitches and policymakers on Capitol Hill

  • Backroom Brawl

    Illegal gambling costs American taxpayers more than $13 billion every year

  • Records Fall

    Revenue keeps flowing in to U.S. commercial casinos, but what did we learn?

  • How Long?

    The last 18 months of commercial casino revenue have set records, but is it sustainable?

  • Football Fever

    With the return of the gridiron, more Americans will enjoy betting, with an emphasis on responsible wagering

    Recent Feature Articles

  • Always Bet on Engagement

    Social media strategies for gaming in 2023 and beyond

  • Free Play Rules

    Free play has been a primary player reward for casinos, but does it make sense?

  • Old Scams, New Twists

    Can casino operators stay one step ahead of cheaters who use technology to become successful?

  • Shiny New Objects

    Why are electronic table games the hottest target for cheats?

  • Gun Crazy

    With liberalized gun laws, casinos need to be more diligent in detecting weapons.