How Can Sports Betting Advertising Be More Responsible?
When the US Supreme Court effectively handed individual states the gambling laws in 2018 it opened up an industry that was very concentrated in a few locations and areas previously.
More than half of the country now has access to legal sports betting sites and that means that the gambling industry has exploded. But another aspect of the decision was how the advertising of betting blew up too. This can be a controversial subject as some people object to the marketing of the industry – if not just sports betting entirely.
When it was just a case of people placing their Vegas bets on sports events
there was a feeling in those quarters that sports betting was contained. Now there is far more opportunity for far more people to place bets – anywhere they want – and advertising will no doubt help that.
It could be that the US is simply playing catch up when it comes to sports betting advertising. Gambling on sports has been legal in many parts of the world for decades and regulatory bodies and national governments have been able to work out what is the best course of action. Many states in the US have only just legalized gambling in the last few years and the advertising rules don’t always seem to have been properly thought through yet.
As an example, the UK recently decided that it would no longer be able for gambling firms to use sports personalities and TV stars
in their adverts. This is designed to protect more vulnerable people and minors from gaining unwanted exposure to sports betting. Italy introduced a complete ban on betting advertising in 2018 – and other countries are re-evaluating the laws surrounding gambling advertising.
The US is yet to fully take on the subject of advertising completely. Anyone living in a state that has recently legalized sports betting will not have been able to escape the number of ads for betting companies and sportsbooks. There are no strict regulations when it comes to betting advertising in the US. There are general laws forbidding misleading adverts and untruthful marketing – but nothing that explicitly deals with the gambling industry.
There are those in the gambling industry that would argue that it is up to the industry itself to police how and what is advertised. It is also fair to say that allowing federal oversight for what is a state-by-state issue could be problematic.
With the measures that are already in place, there are certain restrictions imposed on betting firms and sportsbooks when they advertise their businesses. But it does seem as though there are some areas that could be controlled in a more manageable way. There should be a middle ground that can be reached. Other countries have been able to come up with laws concerning this – and have been able to adapt them when the need arises.
When states propose to legalize sports betting and gaming, a major argument is that there are taxation and regulatory reasons why it can be a positive. It is true, vast amounts of money can be raised by taxing the gambling industry. These can then be earmarked for social causes that might not otherwise receive enough funds.
But regulation has to be part of this process as well – and there should not be a more laissez-faire attitude to how the advertising of sports betting and gambling is allowed once legalization is reached. For anyone lucky enough to have seen betting adverts from other countries, there have been some very clever campaigns in the past, going further than just simply advertising odds.
If US betting firms can find a way to creatively market themselves, while paying good reference to regulatory demands, there could be another big move in both the gambling and advertising industries.