New AGA Sportsbook Advertising Rules Aim To Protect College Students, Other Consumers

Written By Brian Cross on April 5, 2023 - Last Updated on April 9, 2023
AGA Advertising Rules Ohio Sports Betting

The American Gaming Association has updated its rules for sports betting advertising in the U.S.

The new guidelines aim to offer some protection to college students and other young people, including a ban on using the phrase “risk-free” in advertising.

Many of the updates to the AGA’s Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering are already reflected in Ohio’s sports betting laws, thanks in part to a responsible gambling think tank at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. They are among many responsible gambling initiatives underway in Ohio.

AGA’s new rules mark most significant update yet

The AGA is a collective of the country’s leading companies in the gambling industry. Casino operators, gaming suppliers, financial institutions and other key industry stakeholders play a part. The AGA advocates for the industry as a whole.

In a March 28 press release announcing the updated advertising rules, AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said, “[The] AGA’s Responsible Marketing Code reflects the commitment of our members to set and adhere to a high bar for responsible advertising. Today’s updates advance that commitment and represent our intention to protect consumers and evolve our standards as this nascent market matures.”

The AGA says the recent changes are the most significant updates made to the code so far. They include enhancing protections for college-aged audiences by:

  • Prohibiting college partnerships that promote, market or advertise sports wagering activity (other than to alumni networks or content focused on RG initiatives or problem gambling awareness).
  • Prohibiting sportsbook NIL deals for amateur and college athletes.
  • Adding age restrictions (21+) for any individual featured in sports betting advertising.
  • Changing all references to the “legal age of wagering” to 21-plus.
  • Banning all use of “risk free” in advertising.
  • Formalizing an annual process for reviewing and updating the Code.

Is sportsbook advertising out of control?

According to the AGA, sports betting advertising made up less than .5% of total gambling advertising volume in 2022. But tell that to sports fans in Ohio, and they’ll call you crazy.

Sports fans and many others in Ohio endured a deluge of sports betting ads leading up to the launch of legal sports betting on Jan. 1 and in the weeks that followed. From the vantage point of Ohio, it’s easy to see why limits and regulations on advertising might be necessary.

Sportsbook companies in Ohio have already faced over $1 million in fines for advertising violations, which included marketing to Ohioans under the legal gambling age and describing promotions “free” or “risk free.”

With more states poised to legalize sports betting in the coming years, it will be important for those states to pay attention to the advertising as well, as the population will likely face a similar flood of messaging around launch time.

In states where sports betting is already established, the largest pool of potential new customers consists of a young demographic — those just hitting legal gambling age. For various reasons including age and limited life experience, young people face a potentially higher risk of developing gambling problems. That is according to Matt McMurray, an assistant professor of psychology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Experts weigh in on the importance of advertising regulations

McMurray conducts research on gaming addiction as part of Miami University’s Institute for Responsible Gaming, Lotteries and Sport. Founded in 2021, the institute aims in part to inform and assist lawmakers.

In a presentation at the recent Ohio Problem Gambling Conference, McMurray discussed the importance of advertising regulations.

“Regulation of advertising is an important tool that lawmakers have to prevent harm to consumers,” McMurray said. “In the case of other industries, such as tobacco, regulation of advertising practices has had a measurable and definitive impact on prevention efforts. While its impact on sports betting has yet to be measured, it is an important first step to protecting consumers.”

Photo by AP / Jay LaPrete
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Brian Cross

Brian Cross contributes sports betting, casino and lottery coverage to PlayOhio and PlayPennsylvania. Brian studied Professional Writing and Journalism at the University of Cincinnati and has been a contributing writer at Cincinnati’s alt-weekly for over 10 years.

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