Massachusetts Grapples With Sports Betting Ads Before Launch

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Boston Celtics fans react during a watch party as the Boston Celtics take on the Golden State Warriors in Game Six of the NBA Finals. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP).

The average Bay State sports bettor is wondering why the legislature can’t get retail and mobile online sports betting off the ground even though it’s already been approved.

But the Mass Gaming Commission is busy preparing regulations for sports betting operators and their anticipated advertising blitzes.

Method to the Media Madness

The dizzying number of advertisements for Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) laid the foundation for today’s bevy of sports betting advertising blitzes.

Anyone within earshot of DraftKings and FanDuel in the early days of fantasy sports couldn’t turn on their radios or televisions without being inundated by their multimedia barrage.

And nothing has changed now that these DFS titans have morphed into retail and online bookmakers along with those that have been in the gambling business for decades like Caesars, BetMGM, and Bally’s to name but a few.

The appeal for sports betting is far more universal than DFS and even the more mature markets, like New Jersey, that have been up and running since 2018 still have room to grow.

Major industry operators continue to spend hundreds of millions on advertising and generous signup bonuses to capture early adopters.

Alarming Stock Prices

Studies have shown that most people sign up with one, and only one, mobile sportsbook which fuels the fire for the operators to procure these one-and-done revenue producers.

The conventional wisdom is that sportsbook operators will eventually peel back the advertising and the lavish promotional bonuses once the market nears saturation.

But in the meantime, these big operators continue to burn through money at an alarming rate and their stock prices have suffered because of it. DraftKings was at nearly $72 in March of 2021, but if you were to buy in now, you could get a piece of DK at $14.74.

And when a market is in its infancy, like Massachusetts will be sometime in February or March of next year (hopefully), the advertising will be relentless if left unchecked.

And thus, we have the Mass Gaming Commission working overtime to regulate the industry to ensure that minors are not targeted and others who are vulnerable to irresponsible gambling.

Mass Gaming Commission Preps for Media Blizzard

What a Prohibited Ad Implies

Massachusetts’ sports betting law states a prohibited ad will be one that “is deceptive, false, misleading, or untrue, or tends to deceive or create a misleading impression whether directly, or by ambiguity or omission;”

And “to appeal directly to a person younger than 21 years old;” that the commission “deems unacceptable or disruptive to the viewer experience at a sports event;” and billboard or public signage advertising that “fails to comply with any federal, state or local law.”

As the Mass Gaming Commission prepares to write the policies governing sports betting ads in the Bay State, they convened a panel of representatives of local broadcasters, the American Gaming Association, and Major League Baseball.

Broadcasters’ Internal Rules

Jordan Walton, executive director of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, said, “Most, if not all, broadcasters have internal rules as to how many spots for an industry or an advertiser can air next to each other or within a stop set, which is a set of commercials or within an hour or period of time and I would hazard to guess that most of our broadcasters would continue to follow their internal rules so that you don’t have an MGM, a DraftKings, and a FanDuel spot running back-to-back.”

Walton also added, “We do that because our broadcasters are beholden to their listeners and viewers, and to annoy a viewer or listener to the point where they change the channel is exactly the opposite of what our broadcasters want to do.”

“So, it’s a balancing act that they each go through, but it’s an important one.”

Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and update our readers as events unfold.