The burgeoning sports gambling industry in America took a blow Wednesday after professional leagues across the country combined forces to form the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising, a group designed to “regulate” the boom in bookie ads currently flooding the internet and corrupting our youth. The move comes after the influx of commercials over the past five years caught the attention of politicians.
Nothing says “Please don’t regulate us” like concocting a committee to self-regulate whatever it is you don’t want regulated. I can’t get through a podcast, playoff game, or blog post without drowning in offers of free money from DraftKings, or FanDuel, so I’m not surprised this is catching the eye of even the most brain-dead members of the government.
The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA, NASCAR, and MLS are all card-carrying members of the coalition, as are media companies NBCUniversal and Fox. The group is led by NFL vice president of public policy and government affairs Jonathan Nabavi, who I’ve never heard of before and absolutely don’t trust.
Here’s the panel’s opening statement that’s dripping with altruism.
“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. 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.”
That’s exactly the kind of wholesomeness a politician wants to hear after you’ve greased his offshore bank account with some of that sweet, legally earned gambling money. It comforts you like a big bowl of meatballs and polenta accompanied by a nice chianti. And the glad-handing and promises to do better don’t stop there.
Here’s a list of the six core principles (per ESPN) the coalition put in place aimed to “implement and maintain consumer protection policies.”
- Sports betting should be marketed only to adults of legal betting age
- Sports betting advertising should not promote irresponsible or excessive gambling or degrade the consumer experience
- Sports betting advertisements should not be misleading
- Sports betting advertisements should be in good taste
- Publishers should have appropriate internal reviews of sports betting advertising
- Publishers should review consumer complaints pertaining to sports betting advertising
Alright, let’s see how quickly we can debunk these.
Sports betting should be marketed only to adults of legal betting age
Counter: Technically, 18- to 21-year-olds are adults, but I wouldn’t describe that demo’s behavior as “adult.”
Sports betting advertising should not promote irresponsible or excessive gambling or degrade the consumer experience
OK, and how many same-game parlays, and live-line bets can I make over the span of a three-hour football game? As far as I can tell, you can make as many bets as you want. The only limit is how much you can wager.
Sports betting advertisements should not be misleading
What’s it called when I open up my phone and the banner ad reads “Get up to $1000” if not “misleading”? Those deals come with fine print that’s not legible to most human eyes, and every time I hear a sportsbook ad read during a podcast the disclaimers are sped up to 2.5 speed.
Sports betting advertisements should be in good taste
I have no fucking clue how you regulate this one. Taste is subjective, and if you ask me, every commercial ever is in poor taste. Plus, Caesars Sportsbook didn’t sign the entire Manning family only to be told they can’t plaster Peyton, Archie, Eli, and the other brother’s face everywhere.
Publishers should have appropriate internal reviews of sports betting advertising
How many screwups have come because we let companies conduct “appropriate internal reviews”? This is a move out of the NFL’s playbook, and one that led to the Shield protecting its own ass over its employees.
Publishers should review consumer complaints pertaining to sports betting advertising
Note how it says “publishers” and not “editors.” Those are two very different people. One is more concerned about editorial responsibility than the other, and I’ll let you guess which. (Psst, it’s hidden in the phrase “editorial responsibility.”)
In its story, ESPN said that $314.6 million was spent on sports gambling advertising in 2022 (per data from iSpot, a company that tracks TV audiences, and advertising). I don’t know what number of DraftKings ads that equates to, but it’s a lot.
Even if the spending decreases, half of that amount is more than enough to get me to whip my remote at the TV after the 17,000th ad for a same-game parlay. Holy fuck, I’m not one of your mindless blobs looking for a little extra walkaround cash to tickle my other vices. My money is already tied up in booze, weed, and porn. I don’t have any alms for the rich. Sorry, my guy.