How Do The AGA’s New Advertising Guidelines Impact WV Sportsbooks?

Posted on June 14, 2019

As West Virginia sports betting readies itself for wave two of online sports betting, WV online sportsbooks will surely begin waging aggressive marketing campaigns to gain customers.

How companies go about advertising is important. It’s imperative to reach the right demographic and deliver a message of responsible gaming. Gathering those customers properly will ensure a healthy and sustainable sports betting market.

As the discussions around sports betting legislation spread across the nation, legislators are looking to states with sports betting for guidance. And how companies advertise plays a role in that.

The American Gaming Association (AGA), which represents the US gambling industry, recently developed and released the “Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering.”

Legal sports betting is still young and growing. How to market it responsibly is surely a question that gambling companies and regulators grapple with.

The question of how is especially true when the definition of what constitutes a “legal sportsbook” is misunderstood.

In fact, you only have to look at your Twitter feed to see plenty of references to off-shore books.

The AGA wants to stop it.

Bill Miller, president and CEO of the AGA, stated that the new code will set a “high bar” for sports betting advertising.

“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.”

Advertising sports betting in WV

Sports betting handle in WV was over $2 million for the week ending June 1. That figure comes with the market down two land-based sportsbooks and without any online sports betting apps.

Three online sportsbooks were recently approved by the WV Lottery:

Look for at least one, if not all three, to launch by football season. When they do, expect handle to increase exponentially.

West Virginia is a rural state which sets the stage for online betting to exceed in-person betting by a significant margin.

Just look at New Jersey. In the most recent revenue report, NJ online sportsbooks brought in over 81% of the $318 million wagered in the month of May.

Now is the perfect time for WV casinos and app providers to adopt the marketing code set forth by the AGA.

What exactly is the Code?

According to the AGA:

“Members pledge in this code to adhere to certain practices in the marketing and advertising of sports wagering services”

In addition to enforcing the Code, AGA member sites are required to have a geolocation function on pages in which individuals can place bets.

The code includes four sections of compliance:

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

Respecting the legal gambling age

According to the code, “No sports betting message should be designed to appeal primarily to those below the legal age for sports wagering.”

Anything appealing to primarily to those under 21 is off limits including:

  • Cartoon characters
  • Entertainers
  • Music

Additionally, marketing products cannot appear in venues aimed at those under 21, including college campuses.

Specifically, sports betting logos, trademarks, or brand names cannot be on clothing, games, and gaming equipment.

Responsible gambling

It’s important that sports betting advertisements not promote excessive wagering or guarantee success from betting.

This section includes an admonishment to keep advertisements in line with “contemporary standards of good taste that apply to all commercial messaging.”

Each message must include a toll-free helpline for those who feel they need help.

Digital media and websites

AGA online media members will be held to the same standard as other media. Additionally, however, they must have parent control software, which the AGA will make available.

If the site or app allows real-money wagering it must include geo-location software to ensure the participant is within a legal betting area.

The Code also requires the moderation of user-generated content on a site. Of course, that is in addition to the compliance of all communications with local, state and federal privacy laws.

Monitoring Code compliance

The AGA will provide its members with training to better understand the requirement. AGA members, in turn, will provide training to their employees who handle marketing and advertising sports betting products.

Miller also encourages organizations which are not members of the AGA to “rise to this standard.”

Such organizations include:

  • Sports leagues and teams
  • Broadcasters

This type of voluntary regulation will only help the sports betting industry maintain its integrity, a hot topic for the leagues, and grow.

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Way Yuhl

Way Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger. Way recently left his position as a Business professor at Clark University to write full-time while traveling the world. He holds an MBA in International Business and a BA in Geography. You can learn more about his travels at nomadingabout.com.

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