AGA Celebrates One Year PASPA Ruling with Responsible Marketing Code

This week marked the month when exactly one year ago the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. To mark the occasion, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released a new code to govern advertising and marketing in the legal US sports betting industry.

This new set of self-regulations, which was developed together with AGA members, covers issues such as materials branding, responsible gambling and target audiences.

Before we take a more in-depth look at the Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, let’s first discuss the American Gaming Association.

The AGA is a group that represents the $240 billion US casino industry. This rather wide description covers everyone from commercial and tribal casino operators, to suppliers and other bodies affiliated to the industry.

AGA members include:

  • Caesars Entertainment
  • Las Vegas Sands
  • Penn National Gaming
  • Wynn Resorts
  • Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority
  • FanDuel Group
  • IGT
  • GVC Holdings
  • The Stars Group
  • William Hill US
  • and many more.

Ally Members include:

The Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering

The US gaming industry has experienced sweeping changes in the past year with the legalization of sports betting, and the AGA felt the need to address the changing gambling landscape with a new set of rules. The AGA said in a press release that the tenets of the code will apply to both traditional and digital media marketing.

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said the gaming industry has for several years been committed to driving the illegal betting market out of business for the benefit of consumers, state and local economies, as well as for the integrity of games and wagering.

“The gaming industry has an obligation to extend our decades-long commitment to responsibility to this growing sector, and that’s exactly what this effort codifies,” he said. “We are setting a high bar for sports betting advertising and will continue to ensure that everyone involved in the expansion of legalized sports betting across the country – gaming operators, sports leagues and teams, broadcasters and other businesses – rise to this standard.”

The code is divided into four main topics:

  • Respecting the legal age for sports wagering
  • Supporting responsible gaming
  • Controlling digital media and websites
  • Monitoring code compliance

Respecting the Legal Age for Sports Wagering

The AGA commits to not placing sports betting ads in media outlets (including on social media platforms) that may appeal to those below the legal sports betting age.  No ad or marketing message should be designed to appeal primarily to those under-age (such as the use of cartoon characters); nor should sports betting messages be used on toys, clothes or games aimed at that market.  The AGA also suggests that sports betting should not be promoted in college or university-owned news assets; nor should they be advertised on college or university campuses.

Supporting Responsible Gaming

The AGA suggests that sports betting messages or advertisements should not promote irresponsible participation. Messages should adhere to “contemporary standards of good taste”. Ads should be accompanied by a responsible gaming message (such as “gambling could be addictive”), including a toll-free help line number.

Controlling Digital Media and Websites

This is the biggest section in the AGA Responsible Marketing Code, which is understandable considering the growth of digital and online media in recent years. It focuses on AGA-member controlled websites, calling for content to comply with provisions of the code and for responsible gaming messages.

The AGA says that all these sites should include geolocation mechanisms which will screen players who live in jurisdictions that do not allow legal sports betting. The code calls for the highest level of privacy and security. It suggests that players who are sent email or text messages regarding sports betting have the option of opting out or unsubscribing.

Monitoring Code Compliance

The AGA aims to follow up on the code with a number of compliance steps. It plans to hold training conferences for members and employees, as well as refreshers and updates. A copy of the code will be distributed to members’ advertising agencies and media buyers. Regular internal review processes will be held to evaluate whether marketing messages comply with the code.

The Rapid Expansion of the US Betting Industry

Since PASPA was overturned last year, the industry has seen sweeping changes. Ten states have since authorized single-game legal sports betting and dozens more are in the process of changing their laws.

According to the AGA press release, the financial benefits are staggering. Since the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, legal sports betting has generated over $55 million in new state and local taxes. Almost $8 billion was legally wagered on sports across the country. Of that number, $3 billion was wagered outside of Nevada.

Taking Cues from Other Industries

According to a phone interview given by AGA VP of Public Affairs Sara Slane to the Washington Post, the group took its cues from other adult-oriented services such as the trade association for the US brewing industry, The Beer Institute.  These groups traditionally refrain from advertising anything that suggests breaking the law (eg. drinking and driving) or excessive consumption.

“We’re center stage now with sports gambling,” Slane said. “We want to be thoughtful with how we go about doing that.”

Slane said  the code is meant to position the AGA well for the future of gaming.

“We want to be thought of as ahead of the curve,” she said.

Avoiding 2016 DFS NY Lawsuit Incidents

Slane noted that the new code came to help sports betting operators avoid the same situation that DraftKings and FanDuel found themselves in 2016. The two Daily Fantasy Sports groups were sued by the state of New York, which claimed that they deliberately mislead customers through their advertising campaigns. The two groups were forced to pay $6 million each in settlement, over and beyond the millions that they had already spent on their advertisements.