AGA “adamantly” opposes new federal sports betting ad ban proposals
Trade body and responsible gambling advocacy group divided on new industry-crippling bill
The American Gaming Association (AGA) has said it will “adamantly oppose” any legislation which seeks to ban or limit casino or sportsbook advertising in the US.
The trade body, which counts the likes of bet365, FanDuel, and DraftKings among its membership, issued a statement following the publication of the Betting on Our Future Act (BOFA), a new draft federal legislation which would see a complete ban on sportsbook ads on TV, online, and radio.
BOFA treats sports betting advertisements in the same way as cigarette advertising in the US, with all sports betting advertisements under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) being affected.
Authored by New York Representative Paul Tonko, BOFA would leave US sportsbook operators with just mail, print media, and billboard advertising, something which could fundamentally reshape marketing and business practices for the entire industry.
Airing its thoughts on the legislation, the AGA cited numerous issues arising from any potential passage, should this occur.
“Any such effort only serves to reduce awareness for legal options to the benefit of illegal, offshore operators and the detriment of consumers and communities,” the AGA said.
“The proposed legislation would violate well-established free speech protections and undermine the expertise of more than 5,000 state and tribal gaming regulators across the country,” it added.
The trade body pointed to increased efforts by the industry to enforce a responsible gambling-led agenda with its advertising, including the AGA’s Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering.
This code requires responsible gaming message inclusion and imposes restrictions on target audiences, outlets, and content on all AGA members.
“Congress should instead focus its attention on combatting the predatory and pervasive offshore illegal market that offers no responsible gaming measures, age verification, or problem gambling resources,” the AGA’s statement continued.
“We appreciate Representative Tonko’s interest and will continue to work to ensure a sustainable legal marketplace that puts consumer protections first,” it added.
While the AGA’s opposition to BOFA was clear from its statement, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) expressed its neutrality on BOFA, welcoming instead the involvement of legislators at a national level in the sportsbook advertising debate.
A key tenet of BOFA is the need to prevent gambling-related harms to US citizens by stopping “predatory” gambling advertising by operators, something which would benefit NCPG efforts.
“NCPG remains focused on the current lack of federal funding designated for problem gambling treatment or research,” the body said in a statement.
“Unlike the billions of dollars of federal funding dedicated to alcohol, tobacco, and drug addiction programs, there are no federal funds allocated to support problem gambling services.
“A comprehensive publicly funded problem gambling program addressing prevention, treatment, and research services nationwide is urgently needed to protect the public and reduce the social costs of gambling-related harm.”
The NCPG continued: “As new forms of gambling are legalized rapidly across the country, now is the time for the federal government to play a role in mitigating the negative consequences that come from gambling.
“NCPG stands ready and willing to assist members of Congress or the Executive branch in determining and implementing policies that will reduce the rate of problem gambling,” it concluded.