Former William Hill US Chief Back In The Game With Warning About Advertising

October 4, 2021
Former William Hill US CEO Joe Asher was last week was appointed the new president of sports betting at IGT, and is not wasting any time warning the gaming industry about the hazards of excessive advertising.


Former William Hill US CEO Joe Asher last week was appointed the new president of sports betting at IGT, and is not wasting any time warning the gaming industry about the hazards of excessive advertising.

“I’m very concerned about this because we’ve seen advertising bans in other countries,” Asher told VIXIO GamblingCompliance in an interview on Saturday.

For the last decade, NBC Sunday Night Football has posted the highest television ratings of any primetime show in the U.S., and the National Football League (NFL) this year adopted a policy to permit sports-betting commercials but limit them to no more than six per game.

“You can debate whether that’s too many,” Asher said.

“But you still have the post-game show. Then you have the local news after that. And then after the local news, you have the highlights show, and the amount of sports-betting advertising — it’s just way, way, way too much.

“And the ads aren’t just on television. They’re on social media with Facebook and Twitter.”

Although recent ad bans imposed in the likes of Italy and Spain are obvious warnings from Europe, Asher is among those who fear the industry appears to be ignoring the lesson of 2015 when DraftKings and FanDuel blanketed NFL games with fantasy sports ads.

Various state attorneys general began investigations into the companies, while Congress conducted a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This is not like 2015 with DraftKings and FanDuel when it was just two companies who were on the air all the time. Now, it’s all these other companies,” Asher said.

Having led the company’s U.S. operations for 12 years, Asher left William Hill on April 22 upon its acquisition by Caesars Entertainment.

In the last few months, people have been coming up to Asher and asking him if he is enjoying retirement.

“I would always correct them, and say, ‘Well, I’m on sabbatical,’” Asher said.

On Friday, Asher finished his first day on the job at IGT’s headquarters in Las Vegas where he lives with his wife, their two daughters and one son.

“My attitude over the summer was, ‘Listen to everything; commit to nothing,’” he said.

Asher and his family spent the summer in Del Mar, a beach city near San Diego, where he frequently visited the town’s famous racetrack, read books and contemplated the next step in his career.

He began talking to Enrico Drago, chief executive of IGT’s digital and betting operations.

Asher and Drago became acquainted after William Hill and IGT partnered to launch sports betting in Rhode Island on behalf of the state lottery.

“Initially, the idea was that maybe when I got back [to Las Vegas], I would consider a consulting arrangement,” Asher said.

When Asher and his family returned to Nevada and his children went back to school, he said he “definitely started to get a little itchy.”

“I felt like I was spending too much time on Twitter and too much time reading the news, kind of wasting time,” he said. “I was ready to get back into something.”

Discussions with Drago continued and evolved into a full-time role for Asher at IGT.

The company’s current sports-betting operations in the U.S. include partnerships in 18 states, including a series of recent deals to power sportsbook operations for tribal casinos in Washington, Wisconsin, North Dakota and other states.

The announcement on Thursday of Asher’s new job at IGT followed news earlier in the week of his selection to SBC’s Sports Betting Hall of Fame.

Asher and four other new members will be inducted at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex on the outskirts of New York City.

“I gotta tell you; it feels embarrassing, to be honest with you,” Asher said.

“When I hear Hall of Fame, I think of people like Vic Salerno and Roxy Roxborough and Art Manteris; those are true Hall of Famers,” he said, referring to key figures in the development of Las Vegas’ sports-betting market prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling to allow expansion beyond Nevada.

“I like to think I’ve accomplished a little bit, but there’s still a lot more to do.”

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