The American Gaming Association (AGA) has announced a major addition to efforts to enforce responsible gambling on the US betting industry with a new responsible marketing body.
The industry body has launched its Code Compliance Review Board, which will be charged with enforcing the organization’s previously released Responsible Marketing Code. The Board will be headed by two independent co-chairs: Becky Harris and Joe Bertolone, both of whom have considerable expertise in the area of gaming regulation. Harris is a Fellow in gaming at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) International Gaming Institute, while Bertolone is Executive Director at the UNLV International Center for Gaming Regulation. The remainder of the Board will be made up of AGA representatives from five of the major US sports betting companies.
The experience of their betting industry counterparts in Europe is at least partly behind the increased emphasis on responsible advertising from the AGA. A number of European countries have seen significant crackdowns on advertising, and according to the Senior Director of Strategic Communications and Responsibility at the AGA, Cait De Baun, they are determined that the US industry should put its own house in order:
“Learning lessons from the UK and other European countries, where there are crackdowns in advertising, or even the US with daily fantasy a few years ago, it’s important that the gaming industry have the opportunity to self-regulate and set a standard by which we market and advertise to our customers.”
The new Board will be enforcing the key points of the AGA’s marketing code, specifically the requirement to ensure that advertising does not appeal to children and does not appear in media outlets or other channels that are designed for children. The Board will also be working on ensuring that betting companies don’t promote excessive gambling.
All online content will have to adhere to the new code, and the AGA provides a link on its own website through which people can complain about advertisements. If a subsequent investigation by the AGA doesn’t ‘t satisfy the complainant, they will have the right to ask for a further review by the Board.
The AGA is particularly concerned about the way that betting brands may advertise through social media, where advertising is not always paid, and sportsbooks, affiliates, and influencers can blur the lines around what is considered to be marketing.
And the AGA are not the only ones concerned about this issue. US sports betting social media throws up plenty of examples of advertising that would be banned in the UK and other, more heavily regulated markets. For example, one social media message from fast-growing US brand Barstool Sports included the line, “You can only lose if you quit.”
This example drew criticism from the National Council on Problem Gambling, whose Executive Director, Keith Whyte, said that the fact that the message is framed in a humorous fashion makes no difference. Whyte stated that this sort of messaging encourages US gamblers to gamble more irresponsibly and undermines one of the key arguments for a legalized betting market, which was that legal betting provides more protection for the consumer.
The US sports betting market is still on the up, in the middle of a prolonged period of expansion, but the European experience is clearly weighing heavily on the AGA who seem determined to tackle the responsible gambling issue in the short term.
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