Sports leagues and media firms create advertising coalition body

Several top professional leagues in the US, in collaboration with media companies like NBCUniversal and Fox, teamed up on Wednesday to create an alliance to tackle irresponsible sports wagering advertising.

The Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising was created by the NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS and NASCAR and media companies Fox and NBCUniversal. Jonathan Nabavi, the vice president of public policy and government affairs of the NFL, heads the group.

The members described the coalition as a voluntary partnership to monitor the ever-present sports betting advertising and how it is shown to individuals via television, radio, print media, and the internet. The coalition also supports the reduction of excessive sports betting advertising.

The move to form the coalition comes as legal sports betting becomes more widespread in several US states. Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalised sports betting following the ruling by the US Supreme Court to allow states to offer legal sports betting in 2018.

“As the legalisation of sports betting spreads nationwide, we feel it is critical to establish guardrails around how sports betting should be advertised to consumers across the United States,” a statement from the coalition read.

“Each member of the coalition feels a responsibility to ensure sports betting advertising is not only targeted to an appropriate audience but also that the message is thoughtfully crafted and carefully delivered.”

The group was formed after the commercial casino industry, via the American Gaming Association, decided to take on a new responsible sports betting marketing code.

The coalition stated that it aimed to regulate its own sports betting advertising before the government did. Some of its core principles include ensuring that the targets of sports betting advertising are only individuals of legal age and that the ads do not encourage irresponsible and excessive gambling habits. They also aim for the advertisements to be in good taste and not misleading in any way.

The coalition requested the introduction of appropriate internal advertisement reviews by publishers and for them to thoroughly review customer complaints.

David Highhill, the general manager of sports betting in the NFL, stated the sports leagues viewed advertising as an integral part of responsible conduct.

“Legalised sports betting offers fans another way to engage with their favourite sports,” Highhill said.

“But just as we must support problem gambling prevention and resourcing, we must also remain mindful of how sports betting is presented and advertised to consumers, and this coalition should greatly aid in that cause.”

The MLB’s Executive Vice President for Media and Business Development, Kenny Gersh, explained that the coalition was a necessary step, especially as the sports betting industry in the country continues to expand.

“While providing new fan engagement opportunities to enjoy our sport in more ways, we have to continue to be mindful and deliberate with how these sports betting options are presented and to whom they’re directed,” he disclosed.

“Layering this coalition’s work in the advertising arena on top of our efforts to promote responsible gambling and address problem gambling challenges will lead to more thoughtful planning and implementation across the board.”

In response to their efforts, the National Council on Problem Gambling applauded the group and promised to work with it in the future to reduce problem gambling-related harm in the country.

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