By Bill Miller
September 22, 2021 at 5:00 am ET
This year, 45.2 million American adults plan to wager on the upcoming NFL season. And while much of this heightened interest is driven by a wider range of legal sports betting options, it also comes from general excitement: After a year of COVID-19 closures, people are ready to get back in on the action and bet on football.
Legal sports betting — now live in 26 states and the District of Columbia — offers a fun way for fans to engage with their favorite teams while generating needed tax revenue and protecting consumers, bets and the integrity of the game. Most importantly, it takes sports betting out the shadows and into the mainstream.
Since May 2018, when the Supreme Court paved the way for legalization, the casino gaming industry has focused on getting sports betting right.
For the U.S. gaming industry, responsible gaming is core to how we operate and who we are. It’s why the American Gaming Association and our members have funded research into the impact of the new legal market on consumers and established responsible marketing and advertising guidelines for sports betting to include restrictions on target audiences, outlets and materials branding — which are integrated into gaming regulation and used as a standard for advertising.
We established the “Have a Game Plan. Bet Responsibly.” public service campaign to educate new and seasoned sports bettors alike by encouraging fans to set a budget, keep it social, know the odds and play with legal, regulated operators. We are proud to work with our 13 (and counting) partners to spread this message: DraftKings, FanDuel, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, NASCAR, the New York Jets, the NHL, the PGA TOUR, SeventySix Capital, Sightline Payments, Sinclair Broadcast Group, UFC, Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Football Team.
The “Have A Game Plan” campaign is one way the AGA and our members are working to bring all of our new business partners — leagues, teams and media companies — together to engage on responsibility and build a sustainable market. As the gaming industry comes together for Responsible Gaming Education Week (Sept. 19-25), it’s imperative that our partners, who also benefit from legal sports betting, demonstrate their commitment to responsibility.
These initiatives are just the start of important work we can do together to sustain this nascent opportunity while leaning into the industry’s long-held commitment to responsibility. We will work with media entities and leagues that are establishing advertising rules and regulations to ensure we don’t reach oversaturation. We will prioritize and invest in consumer education. And we will work with organizations like the National Council on Problem Gambling and the International Center for Responsible Gaming to ensure resources are available for those in need of help.
We’ll do these things because, while the sports calendar fills up as football, baseball playoffs, basketball and hockey seasons get underway, millions of American adults will bet on them. We have an obligation to create a sustainable, responsible legal market where they can engage with their favorite teams in a safe and fun way.
And we’re going to do that together with our “Have A Game Plan” partners and the broad collective of interests in today’s sports gaming industry. The time is now to further establish legal sports betting as a highly valued form of entertainment that provides consumers with a safe way to wager. If we can continue these efforts, we will all benefit — bettors, sports, media and the gaming industry alike.
Bill Miller is president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.
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