Report Suggests Gambling Ads Should Not Target Young People

A new report on sports betting in the US delivered strong recommendations for sportsbook operators not to advertise their products to vulnerable people, and for media outlets to distinguish between licensed and illegal gambling websites.

“The Marketing Moment: Sports, Wagering and Advertising in the United States” report released by the International Gaming Institute at the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) was authored by Bo Bernard, Alan Feldman, Becky Harris, Jennifer Shatley, and Kasra Ghaharian and was sponsored by Isle of Man-based gaming group Entain.

“We are entering a new era of changing behavior post-COVID. We are all ‘gamers’ now, having increased our game play during the pandemic, and as we emerge, a renewed commitment to wellness is vital.”

Bo Bernhard, Executive Director, International Gaming Institute

Do Not Advertise to Underage People

The report stressed the social responsibility role gambling operators should play given the powers they exert over customers and fans to communicate via social media platforms, by making sure their advertising is not targeting vulnerable social groups, including young people and individuals with gambling problems.

The report went one step further and suggested restrictions with regards to sports wagering messaging should be implemented across the platforms which underage groups mostly use, as “regulations typically prohibit marketing that targets vulnerable populations, such as individuals on self-exclusion lists and those below the legal age to gamble”.

Distinguish between Licensed and Illegal Operations

Another finding of the report was related to media outlets that publish news stories mentioning unregulated gambling websites without explicitly stating that these operators offer their products and services illegally.

“Crucially, this includes a renewed commitment to report responsibly on illegal gambling websites and to eliminate irresponsible messaging that harms younger populations and those with gambling problems.”

Bo Bernhard, Executive Director, International Gaming Institute

Citing a recent story for such a website at the Washington Post, the report recommended that media outlets should make the public aware that the operator or website mentioned in the news is outside of regulatory oversight with no guarantees for consumer protection and responsible gambling.

Authors of the report underscored the importance for the gambling industry to adhere to established best practices with regards to its messaging, proposing the American Gaming Association’s Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering as a guide, while also prompting US operators to take note from the experience derived in other countries that have a history of legal sports betting.

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