The American Gaming Association (“AGA”) recently updated its Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering (the “Code”). The AGA is a trade group comprised of United States commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers, vendors, and other affiliated entities. The Code is a publication of the AGA’s self-imposed restrictions on sports wagering marketing. It is intended to codify the AGA’s core tenets, which include protecting vulnerable populations from predatory sportsbooks and providing consumers with the knowledge and tools to keep sports betting enjoyable. Many view the Code as the industry standard for responsible sports wagering marketing. The Code’s latest updates took immediate effect, with the grace period ending on July 1, 2023. The changes represent the most significant update to the Code since its inception and are focused primarily on regulating sports wagering marketing to protect college-aged audiences. Companies engaged in sports wagering marketing should review their practices to ensure that they comply with the latest iteration of the Code.
What Are the Newly-Enacted Changes to the Code?
As explained by CEO Bob Miller, the updates to the Code reflect the AGA’s commitment “to set and adhere to a high bar for responsible [sports wagering] advertising.” The AGA, Miller explained, intends to evolve its standards as the newly-established betting market takes shape and matures. The recent updates to the Code have added college-aged audience protections, which include:
- Prohibiting sports wagering marketing in college or university-owned news assets (e.g., school newspapers, radio or television broadcasts, etc.) and on college and university campuses;
- Prohibiting partnerships with schools that include any component that promotes, markets or advertises sports wagering activity; and
- Prohibiting sportsbooks from entering into name, image and likeness (“NIL”) endorsements or partnerships with college athletes.
In addition to the above changes, the AGA also addressed perceived vulnerabilities by amending the Code to:
- Require models, actors, influencers, athletes and entertainers appearing in advertising to be a minimum of 21 years old, verified by proper identification;
- Change all references in the Code from “legal age of wagering” to 21-plus; and
- Prohibit the use of “risk free” in any sports wagering marketing.
Finally, the AGA formalized an annual review of the Code to ensure that the guidelines evolve with the development of the sports wagering marketplace.
Why is the Update Relevant to your Business?
Although the AGA is self-regulating, the Code provides for a comprehensive review process once a complaint has been lodged against a member. The AGA established a Code Compliance Review Board (“CCRB”), which has the authority to conduct in person evaluations of member gambling advertising practices and a review of associated marketing material. Initial complaints and CCRB decisions are summarized and publicly accessible on the AGA website. Please note that an AGA investigation does not carry the force of law, but defending against it will nevertheless require adequate and lengthy legal representation.
It is important that companies interested in sports wagering marketing get well-acquainted with the Code. Many similarities can be drawn between the Code and federal and state regulations that carry real-world legal repercussions. The attorneys at Klein Moynihan Turco are experienced with advising companies on how to comply with state and federal of gaming laws, rules, and regulations.
The material contained herein is provided for information purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.
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