UNLV Report Says Online Sports-Betting Ads Should Not Target Youths


As more states legalize online sports wagering, a recent report from UNLV’s International Gaming Institute urges these companies not to target young people and problem gamblers in advertising. 

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Soccer players compete in this illustration showing the immediacy of online sports betting. A report from UNLV notes that online sports betting is growing in popularity. (Image: Tecpinion)

The 29-page document notes that more states are eyeing online sports wagering as a tax revenue source, especially in an economy hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Critics contend online wagering on devices such as smartphones and computers tempts juveniles and can drive problem gamblers into a financial hole that shatters families.

These issues have created a need “to tackle tough questions about how the industry is promoted by advertisers, media, and the industry itself,” according to the gaming institute. The report is titled “The Marketing Moment: Sports, Wagering, and Advertising in the United States.” 

In advising against ads aimed at youths and other “vulnerable populations,” the report urges restrictions on platforms popular with younger people. These include Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.

In another area, the IGI report says media outlets should not refer to illegal gaming sites as reputable outlets. News stories should alert the public that an illegal site lacks “regulatory oversight, consumer protections, and responsible gambling programs,” the report states.

One of the report’s lead authors, Bo Bernhard, stressed the importance of focusing on these issues coming out of the pandemic. Bernhard is IGI’s executive director.

We are entering a new era of changing behavior post-COVID,” he said. “We are all ‘gamers’ now, having increased our game play during the pandemic, and as we emerge, a renewed commitment to wellness is vital.”

The April 15 IGI report was sponsored by the sports-betting company Entain. However, Entain did not see the final report until it went public, according to the institute.

Nationwide Popularity

Across the county, online sports wagering is legal in 13 states and Washington, D.C. The states are New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, and Oregon.

Overall, sports betting, whether online or in a casino sportsbook, is operational in 21 states and Washington, D.C.

Some states, such as Arkansas and Mississippi, allow in-person sports betting inside casinos, but do not permit online waging.

Other States Eye Mobile Wagering

The IGI report notes that Wyoming is the next in line to offer mobile sports wagering, with a bill being signed into law on April 5. Online betting could be operational in the state by the end of this year.

Mobile sports betting also is being discussed in other states. 

In Louisiana, the Legislature is considering a bill that would permit mobile wagering. The state is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos. Voters in November approved sports betting in 55 of 64 parishes, but the ballot item did not indicate whether mobile wagering would be allowed. That will have to be ironed out at the legislative session ending in June. 

In Arkansas, a Little Rock lobbying firm representing DraftKings and other mobile sports-betting companies has sought a rule change to allow sports wagering on smartphones and other electronic devices. Arkansas gaming regulators have not acted on this request, state officials told Sports betting is allowed at sportsbook ticket windows and kiosks in Arkansas’ three casinos.

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