This May 14 will mark the five-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to strike down the federal ban on sports betting. In only half a decade, legal sports betting in the U.S. is thriving: 34 jurisdictions feature operational markets—with more on the way—and the industry just marked its first-ever $1 billion revenue month in January.
From the beginning of legal sports betting’s expansion, the industry has put responsibility first, including with advertising. Developed in 2019, the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering has set a high standard for advertising, mandating inclusion of responsible gaming language and setting guardrails on target audiences.
Advertising plays an essential role in migrating consumers away from predatory illegal sportsbooks while providing responsible gaming resources, but the industry’s expansion has also necessitated changes to our advertising standards. As legal sports betting grows, so must our responsibility efforts.
That’s why this March, the AGA and our members announced updates to the advertising code to address areas where we can continue to raise the bar. Most notably, these changes enhance protections for college-aged audiences by:
- Prohibiting college partnerships that promote, market or advertise sports wagering activity.
- Prohibiting sportsbook NIL deals for amateur and college athletes.
- Adding age restrictions (21-plus) for any individual featured in advertising.
- Changing all code references to the “legal age of wagering” to 21-plus.
- Banning all use of “risk free” in advertising.
First and foremost, these changes add tangible, impactful protections for vulnerable groups. They also reflect our firm belief that responsible gaming must be dynamic. It’s why the code updates formalize an annual process for reviewing and updating the code. As we learn from consumer engagement, regulator and policymaker concerns, and available research, the AGA and our members will stay agile as we navigate the growth of this still-new market to continue to raise the bar on responsibility.
The updates have been well-received from advocates, regulators and policymakers. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal called the code changes a “major step toward setting standards nationwide, which is so desperately necessary,” while state gaming regulators are considering how to integrate the new guidelines into regulatory requirements.
The AGA and our members are listening, and we are committed to getting legal sports betting right—for the benefit of consumers, states and the broader gaming industry.