NFL implements strict limits on Super Bowl sports betting ads amid growing concerns

In an effort to maintain public confidence and address concerns about the saturation of sports betting advertisements, the NFL has announced stringent limits on such ads during the upcoming Super Bowl broadcast.

David Highhill, the NFL’s general manager for sports betting, shared that viewers will be exposed to just three sports wagering ads throughout Super Bowl, with one airing right before kickoff and two during the game.

The league has set limits on in-game sports betting advertising. However, NFL spokesperson Alex Riethmiller confirmed that sportsbooks have acquired only three ads for broadcast, a number below the maximum permissible.

Highhill elaborated on the league’s approach during an online forum discussing the NFL’s first Super Bowl in Las Vegas, where the Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 11.

The NFL, initially resistant to the legalization of sports betting, is now seeking measures to prioritize the maintenance of public confidence, particularly regarding the integrity of the games, as emphasized by Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs, and policy.

“We’ve put some policies in place to limit the amount of advertising for sports betting that happens in our live games,” stated Highhill. It’s roughly one ad per quarter. All told, less than 5% of all in-game ads are sports betting ads.”

The league has been actively surveying fans since 2019 on their attitudes toward and participation in legal sports betting. While specific statistics were not provided, Highhill noted an increase in those favoring and participating in sports betting, coupled with a decrease in those who don’t.

The issue of sports betting advertising has been contentious since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for all 50 states to decide whether to offer legal sports betting in 2018. The subsequent inundation of advertisements prompted complaints, especially from recovering compulsive gamblers, who found the constant enticements challenging to resist. Lawmakers have also voiced concerns, threatening to impose restrictions unless sportsbooks take action to regulate themselves.

In April 2023, major professional sports leagues, including the NFL, joined forces with media companies Fox and NBCUniversal to form an alliance aimed at ensuring responsible sports betting advertising.

Highhill acknowledged the challenges, stating: “There are times when we’re held accountable for ads that are not running in our games, that are running on other sports programming or sports radio throughout the week. Unfortunately, we can’t control all ads everywhere.”

Jeff Miller, during the press conference, highlighted integrity measures instituted by the league. These include comprehensive training for more than 17,000 league personnel on gambling regulations, partnerships with third-party data and monitoring companies, and disciplinary measures for those found to have violated league rules concerning gambling.

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, commended the NFL’s proactive measures, noting that a $6.2 million donation in 2021 has significantly contributed to the expansion of gambling treatment programs. This initiative has driven “hundreds of thousands” of people with gambling concerns or problems to the group’s website or the 1-800-GAMBLER help line.