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Top Pro Leagues, Media Outlets Team Up to Combat Problematic Sports-Betting Ads

Rich Sugg | Kansas City Star | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
  • The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA, NASCAR, and MLS have joined media companies NBCUniversal and Fox to form The Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising.
  • Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have launched legal betting markets.
  • The coalition said it will work to ensure appropriate sports-betting advertising and call for publishers to implement internal reviews.

The nation's top professional leagues are teaming up with some TV broadcasters to tackle irresponsible sports-betting advertising.

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The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA, NASCAR, and MLS have joined media companies NBCUniversal and Fox to form The Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising. The coalition, led by NFL vice president of public policy and government affairs, Jonathan Nabavi, aims to regulate sports-betting advertising as it floods television, internet and print media.

The move comes as sports betting becomes legal in more states and opponents worry its advertising targets minors.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have launched legal betting markets since a landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case paved the way for any state to offer legal sports wagering.

In 2022, commercial sports-betting revenue hit a high of $7.5 billion, a nearly 75% increase from 2021's record of $4.3 billion, according to the American Gaming Association.

"As the legalization 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," the coalition said in a statement Wednesday. "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 coalition describes itself as voluntary and said it will work to ensure sports-betting advertising only targets adults of legal betting age; does not promote excessive or irresponsible gambling habits; remains in good taste; and isn't misleading.

The group also calls for publishers to implement appropriate internal reviews of advertisements and to review consumer complaints.

"Legalized sports betting offers fans another way to engage with their favorite sports," said David Highhill, general manager of sports betting for the NFL. "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 National Council on Problem Gambling has commended the coalition and promised to work in collaboration with it to "better mitigate problem gambling related harm."

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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