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Sports-Betting Executives Say Self-Regulation Needed To Avoid U.S. Ad Restrictions

October 6, 2021
Sports-betting executives have said that increased self-regulation is the key to avoiding a clampdown on advertising by state or federal regulators as the industry continues to progress in the United States.


Sports-betting executives have said that increased self-regulation is the key to avoiding a clampdown on advertising by state or federal regulators as the industry continues to progress in the United States.

The topic of excessive advertising has bubbled back to the surface after the now-traditional ad boom that accompanies the beginning of the National Football League (NFL) season in September, as well as comments from regulators and legislators in New Jersey and Colorado hinting that restrictions could be forthcoming if the trend continues.

During a panel discussion presented by Continent 8 Technologies on Tuesday, executives from several U.S.-facing operators said the onus is on the industry to prevent those restrictions from being implemented as they have in several European jurisdictions.

“I think the way that the regulators and the public react is a function of how the industry learns from its own mistakes in other places and proactively starts monitoring and regulating itself,” said Yaniv Sherman, senior vice president for 888 Holdings, which operates the Sports Illustrated-branded SI Sportsbook in Colorado.

“I think we need to do a better job in coordinating that approach, we’re seeing some signs of it, but I think the more proactive we are, the more cooperative the regulators and policymakers will be and the less violent the reaction will be eventually,” Sherman added.

“It lends itself to the old adage of those who forget about history are doomed to repeat it,” echoed Marc Brody, vice president of business development for Bally’s Corporation.

“If we don’t in the United States take a look at what’s happening with responsible gaming in the United Kingdom and the restrictions that are trying to be imposed by the UK Gambling Commission, we are going to fall into a similar type of situation somewhere down the line.”

Manjit Gombra Singh, president of global product and technology for PointsBet, added that he believes some of the excess in advertising will slow naturally as companies ultimately settle into a more sustainable advertising model than the current model of chasing market share.

“I think there’s some excessive enthusiasm in the market given that we’re in the early stages, and that it will naturally simmer down over time, but I do believe that the industry has to take the lead position in doing responsible advertising,” Singh said. “It’s something to be watched for, but I’m hopeful that the market will find its sweet spot in advertising.”

In keynote remarks Tuesday at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, American Gaming Association president and CEO Bill Miller agreed that the industry must take steps on its own to bring advertising in check, citing restrictions in Italy, Spain and the UK as examples of what could happen.

“Scrutiny from state regulators and the media is increasing around advertising saturation and aggressive promotions,” he said. “We have to get this right, because we've seen what happens when it goes wrong.”

However, Miller added that other stakeholders bear some responsibility for avoiding the restrictions as well.

“I know our commitment to responsibility is real,” he said of the gaming industry. “We need to ensure our actions reflect those commitments if we want to build a sustainable marketplace, but the gaming industry cannot and should not do this alone.

“Every stakeholder, especially our partners who are new to the gaming business — sports leagues, teams, media companies — they need to understand their role and do their part too.”

The blowback on advertising comes as the NFL allowed sports-betting advertising to air during game broadcasts for the first time this season.

The league opened up six television ad slots per game for sportsbook advertising, and during the first three weeks of the season, league sports-betting partners spent more than $50m on those ads, according to Sportico.

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