With the global sports betting industry growing at a rapid pace, gambling regulators across the world have to deal with a number of challenges to ensure that sports betting operators stick to responsible gambling practices and do not cause a surge in problem gambling numbers. The UK has come down hard on gambling operators in recent months putting in place stringent measures with regards to gambling advertising practices.
As sports betting continues to expand in the United States, it has become imperative for a code of conduct to be developed to ensure that sports betting operators toe the line at all times.
Responsible Marketing Code
Earlier this week, the American Gaming Association (AGA) which is an advocacy group for gambling interests in the US introduced a new marketing code which contains certain advertising standards that companies should adhere to. In contrast to the UK where sports betting has long been up and running, the American sports betting industry just came to the fore after the Supreme Court last year cleared the way for states to legalize sports wagering.
The new code was launched by the AGA in a bid to get ahead of any complications that may result from increased advertising within the sports gambling industry. The “Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering” imposes a ban on cartoon character-based ads targeted at children. Operators are also prohibited from advertising in any venue or location where the audience is composed of a majority of young people that still have not reached the required age limit for sports betting.
Furthermore, the AGA also directs its members not to publish advertisements in college newspapers and prohibited them from promoting irresponsible gambling in making sales presentations.
Internal Complaint Review Process
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the Beer Institute and other industry groups which represent products and services for adults, also have strict codes that their members need to comply with. The AGA’s Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Sara Slane said the association took some of its cues from them. Slane said they wanted to make sure that they are well-positioned for the future of gaming and the new code of conduct would help them with this process.
The new marketing code also directs AGA members to put in place an internal review process that will examine whether gambling ads adhere to the code. It will work in a similar manner to the compliance review boards operated by DISCUS and the Beer Institute where advertising complaints are evaluated.
Multiple Countries Impose Advertising Crackdown
An advertising crackdown is also being observed in countries that allow legalized gambling. Online casinos operating in Belgium are not allowed to advertise, while sports betting companies can only do so on television after 8pm. The country also prohibits sports betting ads during live sporting events.
Last year, Australia imposed an outright ban on gambling advertisements during live sports broadcasts. The measure started to take effect on March 30, 2018 in time for the fourth round of the NRL season, and the second round of the AFL. Gambling ads are prohibited between 5:00am and 8:30pm, with the exception of certain cable companies such as ESPN Italy. The prohibition is primarily aimed at minimizing children’s exposure to sports wagering ads.
Italy has just introduced a ban on gambling advertising in January of this year amid concerns over the rising rates of addiction in the country. As part of the ban, casino companies will no longer be allowed to enter into sponsorship deals with sports teams after their present deals expire. This would mean the loss of sponsorship money worth millions of dollars to more than 50% of clubs in the country’s Series A Soccer league.
AGA Looks To Protect Sports Betting Operators
One of the reasons why AGA came up with the new code is to avoid a similar fate suffered by DraftKings and FanDuel, the two main DFS companies in US, when they were forced to pay $6 million each to New York after the state sued them for allegedly misleading customers using ad tactics.
This took place after both companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertising during the NFL season in 2015. Taking this into account, the AGA now wants sports betting operators to be more thoughtful in their advertising approach as sports betting legalization continues to spread across the country. The practice is currently being allowed in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

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