Home Gambling A relentless wave of advertising fuels the sports betting industry

A relentless wave of advertising fuels the sports betting industry


Advertisements are essential. Some claim to offer “risk-free” betting while others boast hundreds or thousands of dollars in “free” or “bonus” play for new customers. But left unchecked, star-studded ads and digital ads can also open up a world of trouble for young people and others at risk of irresponsible gambling, expanded gambling opponents and public health advocates warned Wednesday.

For carriers, aggressive advertising is a fact of doing business in a growing field in which many deep-pocketed companies compete to retain existing customers and attract new ones. But for people like Mark Gottlieb, it’s a warning of the consequences that could come from legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts, like bettors losing their savings, higher rates of problem gambling, income inequality exacerbated and rising health care costs.

“We’re like the 1950s in the tobacco years when it comes to the gambling industry. In states where sports betting is practiced, advertising completely saturates the market, and everyone in those markets remark. It looks like it’s going beyond ads for insurance, which I didn’t even think possible, cars, and even beer by a considerable margin,” Gottlieb, executive director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Medicine, said Wednesday. Law. an event organized by national advocacy group Stop Predatory Gambling. “And with the big game coming up and more games coming up in March, we can see it increase even more.”

New Yorkers were bombarded with sports betting ads when that state launched mobile betting in early January, coinciding with the start of the NFL playoffs. Comedian Conan O’Brien tweeted on January 9 that it had been almost seven minutes since he had seen a betting ad. “Am I dead?” He asked.

“If you live in New York State, every ad on social media will be for sports betting. For now and forever,” Will Hershey, CEO of a New York-based investment firm that offers a sports betting ETFs, tweeted.

Harry Levant, a recovering drug addict and education director for Stop Predatory Gambling, said the publicity is “just the tip of the iceberg”.

“It’s the piece you can see, but there’s so much additional public harm going on beneath the surface. We’re hoping to use the focus on advertising as a launching pad to start educating the public more about this what the gambling establishment is doing and how it is completely inconsistent with public health,” he said.

In 2015, it was the ubiquity of ads for DraftKings and FanDuel on TV, the internet, and places like South Station that helped daily fantasy sports break into the mainstream. But it also put the activity on regulators’ radar screens and led them to impose restrictions on it. A review of DraftKings and the broader industry launched by Attorney General Maura Healey ultimately led to sanctions for DraftKings and FanDuel, and consumer protection regulations for daily fantasy sports.

And it was the constant presence of advertisements for DraftKings during last fall’s MLB playoffs that caught the attention of gaming commissioner Brad Hill, who voted last summer to legalize sports betting as a member of the Massachusetts House.

“And they pushed it and pushed it and pushed it, every inning that we watched of the game last night,” Hill said in October of the betting announcements.

At that same October meeting, members of the Gambling Commission signaled their increased interest in taking a closer look at advertising practices in the casino gaming industry they already regulate and in the betting world. athletes they might supervise. On Wednesday, the Gambling Commission agreed to schedule its first foray into gambling advertising practices for March 3, the start of Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

A six-year problem gambling study released in April identified demographic groups at particular risk of experiencing gambling problems in Massachusetts, including men and people in low-income groups.

Among the policy recommendations that Mark Vander Linden, director of research and responsible gaming for the commission, presented to the commissioners for consideration were “[l]mimic the advertising and availability of gambling, especially in lower socio-economic neighborhoods, or groups that may be at greater risk of experiencing harm from gambling.”

Vander Linden said there were “certainly lessons to be learned from other jurisdictions and from sports betting advertising” and highlighted the idea of ​​a “whistle whistle” ban on sports betting advertising , such as the policy in the UK which prohibits betting announcements during live sporting events.

“So if we go down that road, it’s something that I think should be looked at very carefully,” he said in October.

The sports betting bill (H 3977) which the House voted 156 to 3 in July would require the Gambling Commission to write regulations prohibiting any advertising that is “misleading, false, misleading or false, or tending to mislead or to create a misleading impression, whether directly, by ambiguity or by omission”, any advertising or marketing that would directly appeal to persons under the age of 21, and “any form of advertising, marketing or brand that the commission deems unacceptable or disruptive to the spectator experience at a sporting event”. an event.”

The Senate has taken much less interest in making sports betting legal in Massachusetts.

Senate Speaker Karen Spilka, who was among the opponents of a 2010 push to legalize casino gambling before successfully leading the casino gambling legalization effort in 2011, has for years been reluctant to address the issue. question.

“You know, some want to do it, some aren’t sure they want to do it,” she said last month. “But we’ll take a look at it with the senators.”

Senator Eric Lesser, who has proposed his own sports betting bill and led the Senate’s consideration of the idea, said last year that protecting people with gambling addictions would be an area priority should the Senate consider a sports betting bill.

“It is, ultimately, a gambling product, and we have to remember that. We have a lot of senators who are concerned about this and who want to make sure that people who might be addicted, people who could fall prey to bad activity, are protected,” he said. “So we’re going to make sure that any bill…has a lot of consumer protections in place and really sets a high standard for quality Game.”