Making a Market

Our commitment to responsible sports betting marketing and advertising

In May 2019, the industry marked a major milestone in the trajectory of American gaming: the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The industry has experienced rapid growth over the last year, with lawmakers in 14 states plus D.C. moving to legalize sports betting for their residents and visitors. Seven new markets are already operational, with consumers outside of Nevada eagerly wagering billions in the first year alone. The message is clear: legal markets are here to stay. Anticipating the continued national enthusiasm for sports betting, the American Gaming Association and its members knew we must extend our commitment to responsibility in gaming to create the first Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering.

Great opportunity is coupled with great responsibility, and at AGA, our goal is to set the highest bar possible for the legal gaming industry, which includes marketing and advertising in new markets. The responsible marketing code is a set of proactive self-regulations, which took months of planning and collaboration. Led by AGA, members developed the code after studying similar models from other highly deregulated industries, namely the Distilled Spirits Council, and analyzing advertising regulations around existing legal markets both in the U.S. and abroad.

Specifically, this is a guideline for operators, leagues, broadcasters and businesses involved in legal sports betting to make sure we market appropriately. The code stresses the importance of respecting the legal age for sports betting, supporting responsible gaming, controlling digital media and websites and monitoring compliance.

To ensure sports betting advertising is targeted only to appropriate audiences, AGA members will only advertise sports betting in outlets that appeal to those above legal age. This commitment also extends to only promoting sports wagering in media outlets not owned by colleges or universities. 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. All communications from AGA members will also include a responsible gaming message and a toll-free help number.

Although the marketing code itself is new, the foundation of its message is not. Members have adhered to our Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming for decades while demonstrating an extensive commitment to responsibility through their individual company policies and practices. These long-held views on responsibility are woven throughout the marketing code.

Our industry is ready for the new era of legal sports betting. Together, it is more crucial than ever that we work in unison to promote responsible gaming, eliminate the illegal market, and separate good actors from bad actors through compliance and enforcement. There is still work to be done, but our code sets a high bar reflective of the values of our industry.

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Casey Clark is vice president of strategic communications for the American Gaming Association.

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