As some legislators and regulators in established U.S. sports-betting states have begun to express concern over advertising saturation, regulators in new markets say it is something they will monitor.
Regulators from Arizona, Louisiana and Maryland spoke about advertising and a host of other topics on VIXIO GamblingCompliance’s “Meet the Regulators” webinar earlier this month.
Arizona has become perhaps the hottest new sports-betting market in the U.S. following its September 9 launch, with multiple operators touting it as an explosive success during recent investor calls.
“I definitely have seen a lot of advertising,” said Ted Vogt, director of the Arizona Department of Gaming. “We have received some complaints from folks complaining about the sheer volume of it.”
“I don’t expect that to die down any time soon because we’ve got this staggered rollout of operators coming online,” he continued. “It’s something that I think these operators need to be mindful of because you can create some bad publicity.
“We haven’t gotten to the point where we’re starting to hear legislators say, ‘you need to something about this’, or anything like that, but the legislature will be back in town in January and we’ll see what they’re hearing about that.”
Vogt said it was natural that online sportsbook operators are advertising prominently as they invest a lot of money in initial customer acquisition.
“So it’s something we’re going to monitor going forward, but sort of the metes and bounds of the legislation as well as our rules, we talk about content, we don’t necessarily talk about frequency and things like that.”
In Louisiana, only land-based sports betting has launched, but even though mobile likely will not be available until 2022, the advertising push has already begun as the likes of Caesars offer incentives for customers to pre-register for accounts.
“No problems yet, but it is interesting to see how much advertising has gone into the mobile aspect already and we’re still months away from it,” Ronnie Johns, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, told VIXIO GamblingCompliance webinar attendees.
“It’s something we’re going to monitor very closely as things start to really move in the coming months and coming year with sports betting as it settles in to see what type of advertising they’re going to do.”
If advertising were to become a concern, Johns said the state would have the option of addressing it via rulemaking or by legislative action.
“Our legislature meets once a year so if it becomes a problem, having served 22 years in the legislature, I can tell you that if there’s a problem, the legislature’s going to take a swipe at it,” Johns said.
Maryland is unique among the three states in that the agency that regulates sports betting and casino gaming is also the operator of the state lottery.
From that perspective, the concern about advertising is more of an issue on the business side than on the regulatory side, said John Martin, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.
“The bigger concern that I have is the net impact this might have on our traditional lottery advertising,” Martin said. “It’s really something that we’re going to have to address.”
“When you look at the increase in facilities and operators and sports wagering competing with messaging and the inventory on the media outlets, quite frankly I’m now competing with traditional lottery advertising so I’m fearful I’m going to see rates increase on my traditional lottery ads that I didn’t have before now that it’s a more competitive environment.”
Vogt said one of Arizona’s key concerns from a regulatory perspective was making sure advertising and marketing materials are not misleading to customers regarding the various promotions that are available.
“We definitely were concerned, and still are, about promotions and bonuses that they not be misleading or contain false information,” Vogt said. “We don’t want anyone getting the misconception about what these bonuses are or are not, and coming back to us later, so it was something that we built into our rules.”
Martin noted that Maryland has proposed to cap and then phase out the ability of operators to deduct promotions from taxable net revenue.
“I think it’s the size of the risk-free offers and promotion in general that would be potentially concerning,” Martin said.