Broadcasters, Leagues Form Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising

(Image credit: Getty)

NEW YORK — Major professional sports leagues and some broadcasters have announced the formation of the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising, a voluntary association of sports leagues and media entities committed to ensuring that companies take a responsible approach to sports betting advertising.

Members of the Coalition, which include the NFL, MLB, MLS, NASCAR, NBA, WNBA, NHL, NBCUniversal, and Fox, also published six core principles for responsible sports betting advertising. 

"As the legalization of sports betting spreads nationwide, we feel it is critical to establish guardrails around how sports betting should be advertised to consumers across the United States. Each member of the coalition feels a responsibility to ensure sports betting advertising is not only targeted to an appropriate audience, but also that the message is thoughtfully crafted and carefully delivered," a joint statement from the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising explained. 

The legalization of sports betting has provided broadcasters with a new source of advertising revenue. The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimated in February that sports betting gross game revenue hit a record $7.5 billion in 2022

BIA Advisory Services had predicted that the local ad spend for sports betting would hit $1.8 billion in 2022 and that by 2024 the local ad spend for sports betting would increase to $2.9 billion, according to Forbes. 

But the growth of the betting ads on TV has also raised worries about how the ads might increase gambling addiction.

In response, coalition has committed to implement and maintain consumer protection policies consistent with the following six principles:

  • Sports betting should be marketed only to adults of legal betting age
  • Sports betting advertising should not promote irresponsible or excessive gambling or degrade the consumer experience
  • Sports betting advertisements should not be misleading
  • Sports betting advertisements should be in good taste
  • Publishers should have appropriate internal reviews of sports betting advertising
  • Publishers should review consumer complaints pertaining to sports betting advertising

"We're proud to join these prominent sports industry stakeholders in this important effort," explained David Highhill, general manager, Sports Betting at the NFL. "Legalized sports betting offers fans another way to engage with their favorite sports, but just as we must support problem gambling prevention and resourcing, we must also remain mindful of how sports betting is presented and advertised to consumers, and this coalition should greatly aid in that cause."

Mike Mulvihill, executive vice president, head of strategy and analytics, FOX Sports added that, "Fox and Fox Sports are proud to be charter members of this broad and important coalition.  As America's leader in live sports, we are committed to providing fans a responsible and ethical engagement with sports betting, keeping the integrity of the games and our broadcasts at the forefront at all times."

Elaborating on its core principles, the group also outlined more specific guidelines for each of its six principles:  

  • Sports Betting Should be Marketed Only to Adults of Legal Betting Age. The content of sports betting advertising, marketing and promotion should primarily appeal to individuals of legal betting age, and sports betting should never be endorsed or otherwise promoted by any person who is, or appears to be, below such legal age. Sports betting promotional materials should (i) only appear in media where a significant majority of the audience is reasonably expected to be of legal betting age and (ii) never primarily appeal to children in content or theme. 
  • Sports Betting Advertising Should Not Promote Irresponsible or Excessive Gambling or Degrade the Consumer Experience. Sports betting advertisements should always contain a clear, prominent responsible gaming message, including information on responsible gambling resources, and never be directed to individuals known by the advertiser to be self-excluded. Gambling advertising, promotion and other integrations that encourage irresponsible gambling or degrade the consumer experience (e.g., by appearing excessively) should also be avoided. 
  • Sports Betting Advertisements Should Not Be Misleading. Sports betting advertisements should never be false, deceptive or misleading. For example, sports betting advertisements and marketing should not promote unrealistic expectations of financial gain, or suggest that social, financial or personal success is guaranteed by engaging in sports betting. Nor should any such messaging state or imply that a bet is without risk if the customer must incur any loss, or risk the customer's own money, to use or withdraw winnings from such bet.
  • Sports Betting Advertisements Should Be In Good Taste. Sports betting advertisements should (i) adhere to contemporary standards of good taste applicable to all commercial messaging, taking into consideration the applicable medium and advertising context and (ii) never undermine public perception of sports or their integrity.
  • Publishers Should Have Appropriate Internal Reviews of Sports Betting Advertising. Publishers showing sports betting advertising should (i) provide appropriate training to their relevant employees regarding responsible sports betting advertising policies and (ii) implement internal processes to ensure compliance with such policies. To the extent possible, such processes should include a separate review of advertising and marketing materials by company employees outside the marketing and sponsorship departments.
  • Publishers Should Review Consumer Complaints Pertaining to Sports Betting Advertising. Publishers showing sports betting advertising should develop and implement a process to review consumer complaints pertaining to that advertising.
George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.