UNLV and ESPN forge partnership to advance responsible sports betting practices and media impact analysis


The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and sports media giant ESPN have joined forces for a program dedicated to advancing responsible sports betting practices and media impact analysis. ESPN will be a founding donor of this initiative, leveraging the expertise of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute (IGI).

The rapidly evolving landscape of sports betting presents a range of complex opportunities and challenges. To address these, UNLV IGI will develop a program dedicated to the study of, education on, and advisory services related to sports betting and its intersection with the media.

Brett Abarbanel, IGI executive director, said: “We are thrilled to have ESPN’s support for research, education, and innovation in the responsible, sustainable representation of sports betting in the media. The growth of betting and gambling subjects in US media have exploded in the past five years. So, too, have calls for extended research and thought leadership alongside this proliferation of content.

ESPN is a market leader in sports media, and collaboratively we will advance local, national, and global discussions on sports, while also establishing UNLV’s IGI as the academic hub for thought leadership in this important area.”

ESPN’s philanthropic investment of $200,000 will fuel the collaboration, aiming to catalyze the launch of this initiative. The contribution will support the program in various capacities, including personnel, scholarly research, global outreach efforts, and operational needs.

Key areas of focus for this collaborative effort include:

  1. Enhancing responsible gambling: The program will conduct comprehensive reviews of current regulatory practices and recommend best practices to increase engagement in responsible gambling for both employees and customers.
  2. Developing evidence-based insights: Researchers will provide evidence-based insights on the development of policies, messaging, technology components, and more. IGI will create open-call research fellowships for international scholars in gambling to encourage global impact.
  3. Responsible marketing practices: A structured review process will be established to assess marketing and promotional materials, ensuring responsible marketing practices and the development of best practice policies.
  4. Creating responsible gambling program parameters: Collaborating with stakeholders, the program will advise on the creation of named, marketable, and easily identifiable responsible gambling programs.
  5. Educating industry leaders: This initiative will also educate executive leadership in the media sector on best practices in sports betting, including responsible gambling, responsible marketing, advertising policies, broadcast standards, and risk management.

Kevin Martinez, Vice President of ESPN Corporate Citizenship, said: “ESPN is proud to support this initiative at UNLV. Our investment reflects our commitment to ensuring that the world of sports betting is not only entertaining but also responsible. We are eager to work alongside UNLV’s International Gaming Institute in advancing industry standards.” 

UNLV Vice President of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement and UNLV Foundation President Rickey N. McCurry echoed Martinez’s positive outlook on the partnership. “The university is deeply grateful for ESPN’s commitment, which will enable us to create a global hub of knowledge and best practices in this ever-evolving field,” McCurry said.