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    Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering

    The AGA and its members pledge to uphold responsible marketing practices for sports wagering as legalized sports betting expands across the United States

    Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering

    March 28, 2023

    AGA Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering
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    The American Gaming Association (AGA) represents the U.S. casino industry, including commercial and tribal casino operators, sports betting and iGaming companies, gaming suppliers and other affiliated entities. For decades, the casino industry has operated as a constructive and responsible member of the communities in the 44 states where we operate.

    Legal sports wagering is an entertainment activity that should be consumed only in a responsible manner by adults and marketed accordingly to that audience. Advertising and marketing of sports wagering services informs consumers about the nature of those services and the terms on which they are available. Advertising supports competition, multiplies consumer choice, can encourage consumer loyalty, and promotes responsible gaming initiatives. Further, advertising plays an essential role in migrating players away from the pervasive illegal market.

    Since the Supreme Court decision in 2018, the AGA and our members’ top priority has been getting the expansion of legal sports betting right, including advertising.  The Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering—first published in 2019—establishes a high standard for advertising for the legal sports betting industry, building on the AGA’s longstanding Responsible Gaming Code of Conduct. Members of the AGA developed this code to set the industry standard for traditional and digital marketing and advertising of sports wagering where consumers are encouraged to place real money wagers.

    Accordingly, AGA members pledge in this code to adhere to certain practices in the marketing and advertising of sports wagering services relating to respect for our communities and the law, advancing responsible gaming, and promoting sound individual decision making by consumers of those services. AGA members also pledge to support access to problem gambling services.

    To ensure consumer protections are holistically applied, marketing and advertising of real-money sports wagering services—conducted by both AGA and non-AGA members—shall adhere to the following standards.

    1. Respecting the legal age for sports wagering

    • No sports betting message should be designed to appeal primarily to those below 21 – the prevailing legal age for sports wagering.
    • Advertising should not depict cartoon characters or feature entertainers, athletes, influencers or music that appeal primarily to audiences below the age of 21.
    • Models, actors, influencers, athletes and entertainers appearing in advertising should be a minimum of 21 years old, substantiated by proper identification.
    • No message should suggest or imply that underage persons engage in sports wagering.
    • Sports wagering advertising and marketing should be placed in broadcast, cable, radio, print or digital communications (e.g., social media, SMS, websites, streaming) only where at least 73.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years or older (determined by using reliable, up-to-date audience composition data).[1]
    • No sports wagering messages—including logos, trademarks or brand names—should be used or licensed for use on clothing, toys, games or game equipment intended primarily for persons below 21.
    • To the extent that promotional products carry sports wagering messages or brand information, AGA members and their employees will use commercially-reasonable efforts to distribute them only to those 21 years of age or older.

     2. Limiting college and university advertising

    • Sports wagering should not be promoted or advertised in college or university-owned news assets (e.g., school newspapers, radio or television broadcasts, etc.) or advertised on college or university campuses.
    • Partnerships with colleges or universities should not include any component that promotes, markets or advertises sports wagering activity. This prohibition does not apply to alumni networks or content that is exclusively focused on responsible gaming education or problem gambling awareness.
    • Sportsbooks should not enter name, image and likeness (NIL) endorsements or partnerships with amateur athletes.[2]

    3. Supporting responsible gaming

    • Each message will contain a conspicuous responsible gaming message, along with a toll-free helpline number, where practical.
    • Messages will not promote irresponsible participation in sports wagering.
    • No message should suggest that social, financial or personal success is guaranteed.
    • No message should suggest engaging in sports wagering is without risk or utilize “risk free” language.
    • No message should encourage players to chase their losses or suggest that betting is a means of solving financial problems.
    • No message should imply or suggest any illegal activity of any kind.
    • Messages should adhere to contemporary standards of good taste that apply to all commercial messaging, as suits the medium or context of the message.

     4. Controlling digital media and websites

    • Operator-controlled messages placed in digital media—including third party internet and mobile sites, affiliate platforms, commercial marketing emails or text messages, social media sites and downloadable content—shall comply with all applicable provisions of this Code concerning the content of such messages.
    • Owned websites and apps that offer sports wagering should include a responsible gaming message and a link to a site that provides information about responsible gaming and responsible gaming services.
    • Owned websites or profiles that include sports betting content, including social media pages and sites, shall include a reminder of the legal age for sports wagering.
    • Age affirmation mechanisms, utilizing month, day and year of birth, will apply before a user can gain access to any page where individuals can engage in gambling.
    • Owned websites will include geolocation mechanisms on those pages where individuals can engage in gambling, in order to restrict access only to those wagering within a legal jurisdiction.
    • User-generated content on an owned site or web page will be monitored and moderated on a regular basis for compliance with the provisions of this code.
    • Digital marketing communications will respect user privacy and comply with all applicable legal privacy requirements including those governing consent. All such messages targeting an individual recipient will be clearly identified as originating from the sports betting operator or otherwise attributable to the operator. In addition, each such message sent via email or text message will provide the option therein of opting out or unsubscribing.
    • Owned websites shall disclose to users—in their terms of use or other policy statements—any practices of the website that involve sharing user information with third parties unrelated to the operator sponsoring the site.

     5. Maintaining the code

    • The AGA and its members will conduct an annual review of the tenets of the code to ensure the guidelines evolve with the maturation of the legal marketplace.
    • Updates will specify an effective date based on the significance of changes and commercially reasonable implementation timelines.
    • Updates will apply to new marketing and advertising as of the specified effective date and not applied retroactively.
    • Updates will be published and broadly publicized to ensure awareness.

    6. Monitoring Code Compliance 

    • The AGA will offer annual training opportunities for members and employees of members involved in the advertising or marketing of sports wagering services.
    • AGA members will provide training on the provisions of this code, including periodic refreshers and updates, to all individuals involved in the advertising or marketing of sports wagering services.
    • AGA members will deliver a copy of this code to advertising agencies, media buyers, affiliates and other third parties involved in the member’s advertising or marketing.
    • AGA members shall adopt an internal review process to evaluate whether promotional and marketing messages comply with this code, and will conduct periodic reviews of promotional and marketing messages to evaluate compliance with this code.
    • The commitments in this code apply to persons or entities operating in partnership with or as agents of sports wagering operators in conducting advertising and marketing activity related to sports betting.

    Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering Compliance Process
    Each member of the AGA is committed to the philosophy of and compliance with the code. All AGA members are required to review and comply with this code. Anyone engaged in U.S. sports wagering advertising and marketing is expected to adhere to the code along with adherence to applicable laws, rules and regulations.

    The following complaint process enables any person or entity, including consumers, (Complainants) to flag potential violations of the code by sports betting advertisers and marketers (the Reported Company) and allow the Reported Company to respond and take corrective measures as warranted. A Reported Company does not need to be an AGA member. An AGA staff representative (AGA CCRB Liaison) will facilitate this process.

    The following outlines the compliance review process, including the establishment and role of the Code Compliance Review Board (CCRB). This process will be reviewed periodically and may be updated as needed by the AGA.

    Monitoring Code Compliance

    • The AGA will provide an online mechanism for receiving from any Complainant a written complaint that a sports betting advertising or marketing message transmitted or published by a Reported Company does not comply with the code.
    • The Complainant provides a copy of the sports betting message that is the subject of the complaint, selects the provision(s) of the code in question, and describes its claimed inconsistency with or violations of the provisions of the code. The Complainant also must provide a contact name and contact information.
    • The AGA CCRB Liaison is available to answer questions about the complaint submission process. The AGA CCRB Liaison will refer complete and relevant complaints to the Reported Company.
    • The Reported Company will provide an initial response to the complainant and the AGA CCRB Liaison within three business days which:
      • Outlines actions taken to address the raised concern;
      • Details the Company’s assessment of claim merits; and/or
      • Requests an extension of the process, which may be granted by the AGA CCRB Liaison.
    • If warranted, a comprehensive response, including any additional assessments of the claim, response and/or planned corrective measures must be shared with the complainant and the AGA CCRB Liaison within seven additional business days.
    • If the marketing activity in question is digital in nature, the Reported Company shall endeavor to make adjustments and/or pause the activity immediately pending internal review.
    • If the Reported Company does not respond to the initial complaint, the Complainant may request further review by the CCRB as noted below.
    • If the Complainant does not request further review by the CCRB, the complaint and any response will be summarized in a publicly available forum on the AGA website. The Complainant is provided the option to remain anonymous in such public reports; in such cases, only the substance of the complaint will be made public.
    • If the Complainant still believes the Reported Company is non-compliant after the Reported Company responds, the Complainant can request further review by the CCRB via the AGA CCRB Liaison. This request must be received within three days of the Reported Company’s response. The Complainant can offer any other material relevant to the complaint within seven days of receiving the Reported Company response. The Reported Company will also be provided the opportunity to submit any additional documentation for consideration by the CCRB. The AGA CCRB Liaison will provide all submitted materials to the CCRB via the process outlined below.

    CCRB Review Process

    • Upon request for further review by the Complainant, the AGA CCRB Liaison will send all materials to the CCRB members for their review.
    • The CCRB will meet, in person or virtually, to evaluate if the sports betting marketing or advertising activity at issue is in violation of the code.
    • The CCRB will endeavor to provide written notice of its decision to the Complainant and the Reported-Company within seven business days of receiving the appeal of the complaint. In order to find that a Reporting Company is in violation of the Code, there must be an affirmative vote from at least one Chair and a majority of the Member Delegates at the meeting.
    • At least one of the Chairs and three Member Delegates must be present for the CCRB to meet and decide on violations of the code. If a Member Delegate’s company is the subject of a complaint or is the Complainant, such member shall be recused from the discussion and decision.
    • The CCRB’s written decision will include if a violation of the code has occurred and if so, that the Reported Company is expected to promptly withdraw or revise the advertising and promotional material and/or placement at issue.
    • The CCRB decision, and initial complaint, will be summarized in a publicly available forum on the AGA website. The Complainant is provided the option to remain anonymous in such public reports; in such cases, only the substance of the complaint will be made public.

    Code Compliance Review Board (CCRB)
    The CCRB shall be comprised of two independent, non-gaming industry chairs (Chairs) and five AGA member representatives (Member Delegates). The Chairs shall have a relevant marketing, responsible gaming or regulatory background. Member Delegates shall be selected from the AGA membership.

    All CCRB members shall serve three-year terms. Member Delegates must maintain employment at a current AGA member in good standing. Two member alternates will also be selected in the case an appointed Member Delegate resigns or cannot fulfill their obligation.

    The CCRB will be engaged only after (1) a Complaint has been logged against a Reported Company; (2) the Reported Company has had the required three business days to respond or acknowledge; and (3) the Complainant requests, pursuant to the process laid out above, that the CCRB conduct a review.

    The AGA will regularly post summaries of the findings of complaints logged, Reported Company responses/actions, and CCRB decisions (as necessary) to a dedicated section of the AGA website. The Complainant is provided the option to remain anonymous in such public reports; in such cases, only the substance of the complaint will be made public. A comprehensive listing of all complete and relevant complaints and actions will be permanently available on the AGA website.

    Filing a Complaint
    To file a complaint about a particular sports betting advertisement or marketing material subject to this code, please visit AmericanGaming.org. Questions about the code or the compliance process can be directed to the AGA CCRB Liaison.

    [1] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey.  https://data.census.gov/table?tid=ACSST5Y2020.S0101

    [1] For definition in this Code, “amateur athletes” refers to all intercollegiate athletes and any other athlete under the age of 21.