Sports betting companies must self-regulate advertising to avoid UK fate

Felicia Grondin is Executive Director of the Compulsive Gambling Council of New Jersey.

The business side of sports betting usually requires calculations regarding market share, customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value. But it’s important to remember that all these data points represent real people. The vulnerability of these people (customers) justifies a closer look at the cautionary tale from across the pond.

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European sports betting has had a head start in the US for almost 20 years. Eight teams in the English Premier League now have sportsbook logos on their shirts. The UK, like much of Western Europe, has finally realized that the benefits sportsbooks are getting come with devastating social costs. More bets mean more problem bettors, more debt, and more often than not, despair.

When this fallout reached a crisis point, England took steps to curb gambling advertising and banned sports advertising during matches. The mayor of London recently vowed to take further steps to remove gambling advertisements from the subway.

The downside of the surge in sports betting seen in Europe over the past few years is becoming apparent across the state. The New Jersey Compulsive Gambling Council (CCGNJ) recently testified before the Congressional Commission on Tourism, Gaming and the Arts about the rise in problem gambling. During the session, I noticed a huge increase in gambling and gambling advertising in recent years. New Jersey sports gambling in particular saw him wager a staggering $25 billion in the four years since it was legalized. Television advertising spending in the gambling industry has grown 250% in one year, from $292 million in 2020 to $725 million in 2021. NielsenThis ad spend largely reflects fierce competition among sportsbooks trying to emerge as dominant players in this market.

If the numbers sound staggering, the human suffering is heartbreaking. The congressional hearings included screenings of HBO’s segment. real sports A video contributed by CCGNJ titled “Show Me the Money” contained an interview with the mother and girlfriend of a 25-year-old British man whose gambling debts had driven him to suicide. , the suicide rate for disorderly gambling is 20%, the highest among addictions, so this is an all too common scenario.

CCGNJ’s 800-GAMBLER helpline, which receives calls from problem gamblers, has seen a 141% increase in calls since 2018. The disturbing story also includes that of an 81-year-old woman who began gambling because of her habit of playing phone solitaire. She finally ran out of her $400,000 nest egg and now has to work a minimum wage job. Another recent call was from a man who squandered her son’s college funds on her sports betting online.

Commission chairman Ralph Caputo, who supports gambling as a source of income for the state, nonetheless characterized the amount of advertising as “obscene”. He’s not the only one with problems.Senator Ray Lesniak, the state’s first legalized sports bettor, expressed disappointment with the gambling’s marketing. sport handlethe senator said: “I actually filed a complaint with the DGE. [Division of Gaming Enforcement] About some TV ads that I find too attractive. I saw someone win a slot or something and have a new pool in their backyard. Something like that. I think some of these ads go a little too far in promoting big dreams, big wins. just use it. ”

Two lawmakers who generally view gambling as positive for the state recognize the costs associated with 24/7 access to gambling apps and the constant stream of gambling ads. And as Rezniak said, they have the power to do something about it.

One approach is to require warning labels at brick-and-mortar casinos and online gambling sites. CCGNJ presented the two concepts to the Congressional Committee in his May. Legislators have accepted our proposal.

It is difficult for Chairman Caputo to dispute the “obscene” label attached to the volume of gambling advertising currently being posted. If the industry really wanted to avoid what happened in the UK, it would go a step further on its own. We encourage you to take the lead. Self-regulation is usually preferable to being enforced by outside groups. Businesses, understandably, have a hard time pulling out when the money is at stake, but somehow, either self-imposed or regulatory-imposed restrictions are used to discourage excessive gambling marketing. It is in everyone’s best interest to curb

Felicia Grondin is Executive Director of the Compulsive Gambling Council of New Jersey.

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