he University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)’s International Gaming Institute (IGI) released a report Thursday with a number of recommendations regarding sports betting marketing in the US.
In the report, authored by members Jennifer Shatley, Kasra Ghaharian, Bo Bernhard, Alan Feldman and Becky Harris, the experts recommend that sports betting companies' marketing does not target vulnerable populations (particularly young people and those with gambling problems) with advertising, that the media not cite illegal offshore gambling sites in their articles unless they are identified as illegal, and that social media platforms put restrictions in place related to sports wagering messaging with certain accounts.
“The Marketing Moment: Sports, Wagering, and Advertising in the United States,” was distributed Thursday and is available on IGI’s website. It was sponsored by the Entain Foundation, but all research was conducted by institute members and report results were not reviewed by Entain prior to publication.
The report also calls for a "proactive cross-disciplinary summit of thoughtful and impactful leaders, to discuss the intersection of sports gambling and advertising and its resulting impacts on athletes, teams, leagues, and the public." They call for the participation of league and team officials, current and former athletes, media companies, gambling industry representatives, academics and researchers, problem gambling experts, public policy experts, regulators, and politicians, among other interested parties.
In addition, the authors recommend that universities protect not only their brands and their games’ integrity, but also coaches’ and student-athletes’ mental wellness. The report notes that according to a survey of Division 1 schools, only about 20% of the schools that offer sports wagering education include information about gambling disorders. "At a minimum, the NCAA and its members need to mandate responsible gambling education as well as educational programming on the nature of sports wagering, the aforementioned conflicts that can exist (for instance, with affiliate marketers, whom athletes may just see as “normal businesses”), and the potentially devastating impacts of gambling disorders."
IGI's members also note that the industry should ensure that its messaging is responsible, both in terms of content and location. "For example, we endorse the Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering developed by the American Gaming Association, in an effort to set an industry standard in the US for the marketing of sports wagering. Given the broad membership of the AGA, the Code’s scope and reach are potentially quite substantial."
One of the report’s authors said the timing of the release of the report coincides with the massive expansion of mobile sports wagering across the United States.
“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,” said Bo Bernhard, IGI's executive director. “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.”