Heading to ICE, iGB is preparing you for the biggest trade show of 2024 with this new series covering the latest developments since the 2023 show.

2024 is set to be an exciting year for sports betting, particularly in the advertising space, where operators’ marketing will be under more scrutiny than ever.

This will be particularly evident in the United Kingdom. The Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee recently called for a reduction in sports betting advertising to protect children.

The White Paper, published in April 2023, was intended to set out how gambling should be regulated in the UK. However, there has been criticism for the lack of measures to deal with advertising. The CMS committee is pushing for more to be done in 2024 than what was set out in the White Paper.

The pressure to reduce sports betting advertising could also prove to be a common theme across Europe this year. France, Belgium and the Netherlands have all taken steps to reduce the amount of visible gambling marketing in 2023.

This was also the case in the US, where Democratic Representative Paul Tonko introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that proposes a far-reaching ban on sports betting advertising.

The debate over sports betting sponsorship is raging in the UK

The UK is likely to be the region where discussion of sports betting advertising will be most prevalent in 2024. The white paper did little to defuse the controversy and came under criticism for failing to take action on advertising.

In mid-April, ahead of the publication of the White Paper, Premier League clubs voted to collectively stop gambling sponsorship on the front of matchday shirts from the end of the 2025/26 season. At the time of the vote, eight of the 20 clubs had shirt sponsorship agreements with gambling providers.

But in an article for iGB, industry expert Jon Bruford expressed his opinion that the move was “appeasing at best, pointless at worst” and that deeper action was needed to truly address all advertising-related issues.

While the CMS committee welcomed the Premier League clubs’ decision, it also called for a “more cautious approach” to advertising than suggested in the white paper. It pointed to a recent study that, in addition to jersey sponsorship, also highlighted the high number of gambling messages visible during games.

Furthermore, a study into advertising in the Premier League published in September concluded that self-regulation had “completely failed”.

The University of Bristol study found that 92% of content marketing ads from gambling brands breached regulations because they were not clearly identifiable. The researchers also found that less than a quarter (20.6%) contained gambling harm reduction messages and only 18.7% contained age warnings.

It is clear that there is a problem to be solved. A recent survey by the Football Supporters Association found that almost three quarters of football fans in England and Wales are concerned about the level of gambling sponsorship in the sport.

However, it is not an easy solution, and 2024 is a crucial year for future sports betting promotion.

Sports betting advertising is a hot topic in Europe

2023 was an interesting year for a number of European countries in terms of regulating sports betting advertising.

France was among the countries that tightened their restrictions on sports betting advertising. The Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), the French gambling regulator, has banned the use of an athlete’s image in gambling communications.

The ANJ has also issued a series of new gambling sponsorship regulations for sports teams, as well as a role model ban that prohibits athletes popular with children from appearing in betting marketing.

Belgium introduced a near-total ban on gambling advertising in July. Unsurprisingly, the ban came under fire within the industry. Some claimed the ban would instead encourage the illegal market.

The Netherlands introduced a similar ban on the same day as Belgium, with gambling advertising banned on most media channels. However, unlike the Belgian ban, targeted advertising was permitted in some cases. The regulator’s goal was to ensure that 95% of ad visitors were over 24 years old.

Both Germany and Italy already have extremely strict rules on advertising sports betting, and operators in both countries are pushing to ease these strict restrictions in the future.

USA: Betting on our future

In February 2023, Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko introduced a bill called the “Wetting on Our Future Act.”

It proposed a ban on sports betting advertising, with the aim of “prohibiting the advertising of sports betting on all electronic communications media subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and for other purposes.”

If passed, sports betting operators would not be permitted to advertise in media that falls under the FCC’s control, such as: E.g. television, radio or internet. However, the bill has yet to be passed by the House of Representatives and has drawn criticism from the industry.

The Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising was launched in April. Numerous broadcasters and sports leagues collaborated to promote responsible sports betting advertising. The National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL) were involved.

The NBA, MLB and NHL also joined forces in November and jointly released a new responsible gaming advertisement called “Never Know What’s Next.” The ad appeared on the X accounts (formerly known as Twitter) of all three leagues and aimed to portray the unpredictability of the sport.

In December, it was revealed that FanDuel Group had lobbied against rules banning sports betting advertising near colleges and universities in New York.

New York introduced updated sports betting rules in October. This came after the New York State Registrar took into account the opinions of various licensees, including Flutter Entertainment’s FanDuel.

With the ban now in effect, unredacted documents from the registrar’s office now show that FanDuel has spoken out against such a move. The operator also spoke out against a number of other measures in October.