AGA’s new sports betting marketing code prohibits college partnerships, “risk-free” promotions

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has announced updates to the association’s Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering – which sets the industry standard for marketing and advertising of sports wagering – including increased protections for college-aged bettors and a ban on the use of the term “risk-free” promotion.

The changes were developed in collaboration with AGA members, and the association says they are the most significant to the code since its inception. They also come amid a pushback by lawmakers and regulators against some of the promotional tactics used by sports betting operators.

In an increasing number of states, new rules limiting sports betting are being proposed and implemented – including some that the industry is now imposing on itself. For instance, the AGA’s banning of the term “risk-free” in advertising has already happened in Ohio and Massachusetts, with other states in the pipeline. Additionally, FanDuel, DraftKings, and others have all moved away from the terminology.

The update enhances protections for college-aged audiences by:

  • Prohibiting college partnerships that promote, market or advertise sports wagering activity (other than to alumni networks or content focused on responsible gaming initiatives or problem gambling awareness). 
  • Prohibiting sportsbook NIL deals for amateur and college athletes.

The changes further add age restrictions (21+) for any individual featured in sports betting advertising, modify all references to the “legal age of wagering” to 21-plus, bans all use of “risk-free” in advertising, and formalize an annual process for reviewing and updating the code.

The AGA told the Associated Press on Tuesday the changes are necessary to keep up with developments in the fast-growing legal sports betting industry, which currently operates in 33 states plus Washington, D.C.

“Established in 2019, AGA’s Responsible Marketing Code reflects the commitment of our members to set and adhere to a high bar for responsible advertising,” stated AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Today’s updates advance that commitment and represent our intention to protect consumers and evolve our standards as this nascent market matures.”

The updated standards go into effect immediately with a grace period for existing or deployed assets until July 1, 2023, the association noted. Full updates to the Code can be found here.

Advertising plays an essential role in migrating consumers away from predatory illegal sportsbooks and into the protections of the legal, regulated market while providing responsible gaming resources,” added Miller. 

The AGA and our members are committed to building a sustainable marketplace that protects vulnerable populations and gives consumers the knowledge and tools to keep sports betting fun for adults.”

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, praised the new rules. “The AGA’s code is an important standard for the gambling industry, and we are glad to hear about these updates,” he said. “The code is so important because many sports fans are underage, and we also know that people who gamble on sports have higher rates of gambling problems.”

In addition to updates to the Code, Dr. Jennifer Shatley has been named co-chair of the Code Compliance Review Board. Founder and principal consultant at Logan Avenue Consulting and consulting partner for the Responsible Gambling Council, Dr. Shatley brings more than 25 years of experience in responsible gaming policy to oversee the compliance board and review Code violation complaints.