U.S. sportsbooks no longer may advertise “risk free” bets and operators may not enter NIL deals with amateur and college athletes, the American Gaming Association said Tuesday.
Those are among a half-dozen major changes made to the group’s Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, which sets standards for responsible marketing and advertising of sports betting.
The changes, including an annual review of the code, “represent our intention to protect consumers and evolve our standards as this nascent (sports-betting) market matures,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement announcing the updates.
The “risk free” ads have prompted criticism from regulators and organizations that fight problem gambling. A class-action lawsuit was filed this month in federal court against Caesars Sportsbook in Illinois, alleging that the term is misleading because losing bettors receive credit to be used for a subsequent bet instead of getting their money back. Some lawmakers have advocated a ban on sportsbook advertising
Since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states outside Nevada to regulate sports betting, 33 states and the District of Columbia have instituted it; three more states have legalized it but not yet launched operations.
In addition to banning “risk-free” wording and prohibiting name-image-likeness deals with amateur and college athletes, updates to the marketing code include:
- Prohibiting college partnerships that promote sports wagering activity, other than to alumni networks or content focused on responsible gaming.
- Requiring that anyone featured in sports-betting advertising be at least 21 years old.
- Changing all references to the “legal age of wagering” to 21-plus.
- Formalizing an annual process for reviewing the code.
AGA members collaborated on the changes to the code, which was first adopted in 2019. The new standards are effective immediately, with a grace period for existing or deployed assets until July 1.
“Advertising plays an essential role in migrating consumers away from predatory illegal sportsbooks and into the protections of the legal, regulated market while providing responsible gaming resources,” Miller’s statement said. “The AGA and our members are committed to building a sustainable marketplace that protects vulnerable populations and gives consumers the knowledge and tools to keep sports betting fun for adults.”
The AGA marketing code also includes self-imposed restrictions on target audiences, limiting ads to outlets with at least 73.6 percent of the audience reasonably expected to be 21 or older. It also requires ads to include “conspicuous” messaging about responsible gaming.
Through the AGA website, AmericanGaming.org, the association will provide a way for anyone to file a complaint about violations of the code. Complaints will go to the Code Compliance Review Board, which includes two independent, non-gaming industry chairs and five AGA member representatives. The AGA will post summaries of the findings of complaints logged, company responses and actions, and board decisions. Complainants may remain anonymous in public reports.