Too much J.B. Smoove and Jamie Foxx?
Some lawmakers are beginning to think so.
Four years into legal sports betting in the U.S., the industry’s voyage through 35 states and counting has brought countless gambling ads to television sets, subway stops and major league ballparks.
The price of TV ads for online gambling jumped to $725 million in 2021, a 148% increase from 2020, according to Nielsen Holdings.
It’s part of their business model: flood newly legal states with incentives to bet in hopes of acquiring as much of the market as possible. Most companies are years away from turning a profit and are still jousting to snatch up as many bettors as possible.
But the advertising bonanza is way more than New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo says he and his colleagues anticipated in 2018 when they became the first state outside of Nevada to legalize online sports betting.
“I never imagined it would get to this point. I wanted them to be successful, but not at the cost of negative effects on our public and youth,” Caputo said. “These ads have gotten really insane. You can’t turn the TV on without seeing them.”
States Begin the Conversation
In May, Caputo held a legislative hearing on steps New Jersey could take to curb betting ads, which he’s concerned have stoked addiction.
That could come in the form of a new law or through action by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, he said.
“The marketing and advertising piece is one of the next challenges ahead,” said Brandt Iden, Sportradar’s head of government affairs and a former Michigan State Representative. “The industry needs to start to do more to take a harder look at it, or politicians and regulators will.”
In Massachusetts, headquarters of sports betting giant DraftKings, lawmakers are considering baking in restrictions on sports betting ads into their law, including:
- A ban on any marketing that could “disrupt” the viewer’s experience during live sports broadcasts.
- A limit on promotional betting incentives, which could mean no free credits or signup bonuses.
- A ban on all forms of advertising unless 85% of viewership is over the age of 21.
It’d be the first U.S. state to ban sports betting ads to such an extent.
Betting Ads Limited Outside of U.S.
Even stricter limits are in place in Ontario, the first Canadian province to legalize sports betting. Within the first month of launch, regulators fined PointsBet and BetMGM tens of thousands of dollars for violating them.
Similar restrictions are in place across Europe, where, unlike the U.S., sports betting has been legal for decades.
Just last month, the U.K., which has historically been free rein on betting ads, issued rules banning athletes, celebrities and social media influencers from advertising sportsbooks, according to a BBC News report.
There aren’t many ad restrictions in the U.S. in part because the industry is so new, especially in most states. The American Gaming Association, which lobbies on behalf of the gaming industry, has a code of guidelines on its website, which …….