American Gaming Association slams New York Times over “mischaracterizations” in reporting
Trade body weighs in after broadsheet publishes report criticizing rollout of sports betting and role of operators and regulators
The American Gaming Association (AGA) has strongly rebuked the New York Times, after the newspaper published the findings of a year-long investigation into the US sports betting industry.
Times writer David Enrich used the epistle to take aim at the sector, asserting the industry had been using “dubious data” in order to push legalization of sports betting, including financial projections that he suggested were wildly optimistic.
The editorial questioned so-called “pliant” legislators and the usage of tax breaks for the industry, as well as industry-accepted marketing practices such as the use of promotional bets.
Enrich levelled substantial criticism at Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy in his dealings with licensing authorities, questioning why Portnoy had not been subjected to a license review in 12 of the 13 states in which Barstool operates despite filing for bankruptcy.
The Times also claimed, from its own survey data, that regulations had been enforced in a “haphazard” way, with punishments proving ineffective and states relying on the industry to regulate itself, with varying results.
“The more people bet, the more states collect in taxes. While also seeking to protect consumers, regulators have an incentive to help gambling companies get up and running quickly. Some states let them begin operating before regulators complete comprehensive licensing reviews,” Enrich wrote.
“The sports betting industry has been creative in devising ways to persuade people to keep betting even after they lose money, but tools to make it easier to quit – some run by gambling companies, others by states – do not always work,” he added.
On the same day as the Enrich editorial, Times writers Eric Lipton and Kenneth P. Vogel published a similarly strongly worded separate editorial questioning practices used in the industry when lobbying for sports betting interests.
The duo suggested operators including FanDuel and DraftKings have engaged in a “bare-knuckle” lobbying campaign, assembling an army of former regulators and using a variety of tactics to solicit support from legislators.
Responding to the twin editorials, the AGA pulled no punches in its assessment.
“As unapologetic advocates for our industry, the AGA engages with the New York Times and any other outlet to share facts and perspectives,” the AGA said in a post on LinkedIn.
“Despite these efforts, there are several mischaracterizations in the Times‘ recent reporting on the legal sports betting industry.
“The US gaming industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the country. The federal government regulates the gaming industry like financial institutions, while thousands of dedicated professionals across legal jurisdictions set and enforce gaming regulations.
“There’s an appropriately high bar to clear to receive and retain a gaming license and any assertion to the contrary is false.”
The AGA continued: “The industry’s commitment to responsible gaming is a core and clear differentiator for the US gaming industry against our peers globally.
“That commitment continues to permeate everything we do and evolve with new technology and our understanding of player behavior.
“The industry will continue our investment in advancing a safe, well-regulated environment that protects consumers and generates benefit for communities,” the tradebody concluded.