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NFL partners with US sportsbooks as study highlights pitfalls

As the National Football League (NFL) announced its first partnerships with sportsbooks and Arizona becomes the latest state to offer sports betting, a new study warns against the US gaming industry following the path of Europe, particularly in how online betting is promoted by advertisers, the media and industry itself

By Buck Wargo – SiGMA US correspondent

The NFL, which had long opposed the expansion of sports betting in the US until a dramatic change, imposed by the Supreme Court in 2018, made headlines last week through deals with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel to become official betting partners.

A new report by the University of Nevada Las Vegas, highlighting the surge and promotion of sports betting in the US, warned the booming industry about the role the media and advertising play in promoting responsible wagering.

Citing the examples of many jurisdictions, particularly in Europe, the report stated that that sports wagering advertising “has led to a backlash or pumping of brakes” either by governments, regulatory authorities and the industry itself.

The report outlined a framework to promote sports betting in a responsible manner in the US to avoid pitfalls.

These include the urging of media outlets to stop referring to illegal offshore sports betting sites as if they were reputable and legal and to ensure that sports gambling operators have advertising that doesn’t target vulnerable populations, particularly youth and those with gambling problems. Read more about responsible gambling on SiGMA News.
The report also urges sports teams and gambling operators to restrict gambling advertising through Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat.

“We could learn from other jurisdictions that there really is an opportunity at the outset to implement and promote sports wagering in a responsible manner and avoid some of those pitfalls seen in other nations,” said Jennifer Shatley, one of the report's lead authors.

“In Europe, there’s a bigger conversation going on regarding gambling, but I think there’s some lessons in terms of how one places responsible messages and how much advertising is necessary.”

There’s nothing wrong with sports wagering and promoting sports betting, but the more the teams, the leagues and media get engaged in gambling, the more we need to be engaged in responsible gaming,” Shatley advised.

Daniel Kustelski, the CEO of Chalkline Sports, a platform for sports betting games, said the industry, including states, regulatory bodies, teams and leagues, are still a long way from understanding sports betting and how it works.

Kustelski said he would like the NFL to put some of its proceeds from the three sportsbooks sponsorships to responsible gambling programs.

“We need to look at places like Europe and do the best that we can to emulate their good practices,” Kustelski said.

“It’s possible to promote anything responsibly. It’s just new to so many different people in America, and reports like this should be mandatory reading not only for the sports betting industry but also the sports industry and the media.”

Kustelski said it was inevitable that the NFL, as a league, would embrace sports betting partnerships just like the NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, MLS and PGA Tour.

“When you look at Europe and see that operators are spending 25 to 30 per cent of their revenues on marketing, they’re going to spend it somewhere. When you look at the United States and these projections of $15 billion in gross gaming revenue from sports betting, expect a third of that will be spent by operators in the market to acquire customers.

"The NFL is just saying that they should just collect these revenues themselves. It’s clear the operators are willing to spend that level of funding on these leagues.”

The five-year NFL deal is worth just under $1 billion, he said. That means each operator will spend an average of $65 million a year, Kustelski said.


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