A senior Democratic senator has expressed “grave concerns” about Caesars Entertainment’s efforts to promote sports betting on two college campuses that reportedly violate the standards established by the industry’s own trade body, the American Gaming Association (AGA).
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent letters on Friday (November 25) to Caesars CEO Tom Reeg and AGA president and CEO Bill Miller noting that the AGA's responsible marketing standards for sports wagering “explicitly prohibit advertising sports wagering on college or university campuses as well as in college or university-affiliated news assets.”
Caesars has sports-betting partnerships with the athletic departments at Michigan State University and Louisiana State University. PointsBet, which is not an AGA member, has also formed a partnership with the University of Colorado. The deals were highlighted in a series of articles published earlier this month by the New York Times on the expansion of sports betting.
The two letters were first published on Friday by New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel on Twitter.
“Since the Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, gambling companies have taken advantage of opportunities to reach new consumers,” Blumenthal wrote in his two-page letter to the AGA’s Miller.
“Caesars and others have been extremely successful in closing lucrative deals with athletic departments at colleges and universities, with more companies sure to follow. Experts have said that it can be difficult for young people to recognize their inability to gamble responsibly, which could lead to serious mental and financial consequences.”
Blumenthal reminded the AGA and Caesars that universities have a responsibility to protect students, and the impact of the decisions made by athletic departments can have detrimental consequences to the entire campus community.
“While I am encouraged by AGA’s initiative to set industry standards meant to ensure the casino industry and other affiliated entities respect the legal age for sports wagering and support responsible gaming, including on online platforms, it is critical that you safeguard consumers from members that violate this commitment.
“AGA has a responsibility for setting an example to everyone in the industry,” the senator added.
In response to Blumenthal’s letter, the AGA issued a statement on Twitter Friday saying the group appreciated the senator's inquiry and looked forward to “working with him to ensure entities across the sports-betting ecosystem share the same commitments to responsible gaming.”
Caesars executives were unavailable for comment on Sunday (November 27).
“We were proactive in establishing the industry-leading Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, which sets a high standard for responsible advertising. The AGA encourages anyone who sees questionable marketing practices to report it,” the AGA said.
“From the start, AGA and our members’ top priority has been getting sports betting right and that includes advertising. We will continue to promote best practices and our code with AGA members and non-AGA members alike.”
Blumenthal requested that the AGA provide his office by December 9 with any communications between the trade association and Caesars or PointsBet regarding their partnerships with colleges and universities.
He also wants to know if any AGA member has promoted or advertised sports wagering on a college campus or in a university-owned news assets, including a student newspaper.
If yes, Blumenthal asked the AGA to “please identify the member and any action taken by the AGA to end the improper marketing.”
He also reminded Caesars boss Reeg that “young people should not be targeted by sports wagering advertisements and Caesars’ deliberate practice of marketing towards college-aged students cannot continue.”
“I urge your company end its practice of targeting colleges and universities, discontinue any existing partnerships with schools, and abide by industry standards that prohibit marketing to college students.”
Blumenthal also requested Reeg respond by December 9 with his “commitments to end this practice, discontinue college partnerships, and adhere to AGA industry standards in the future.”