NFL launches responsible betting awareness campaign

NFL puts voice and money behind initiative to create a safer sports betting ecosystem in the United States

On Wednesday, the NFL launched a responsible betting public awareness campaign that includes a three-year, $ 6.2 million partnership with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). This is the largest grant ever to the NCPG and, according to executive director Keith Whyte, nearly doubles the annual budget of the Washington, DC-based nonprofit founded in 1972.

“The problem gambling field is about 20 years behind addiction, and this grant is going to help us catch up,” Whyte told ESPN. “It’s huge. It’s really going to help us help more people.”

The initiative will fund national and local problem gambling resources, modernize the national hotline, develop the website and promote responsible gambling messages on league media platforms. Later this fall, responsible gaming TV spots featuring retired coaches and players will begin airing.

“We believe it is essential that the NFL use the power of our voice to educate and encourage fans who choose to play to do so in a safe and responsible manner,” said Christopher Halpin, executive vice president of the NFL, director of strategy and growth, said in a statement announcing the campaign. “We also recognize that responsible betting programs across the country are under-resourced, especially as legalization spreads nationwide.”

Three years after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, legal sports betting operates in 28 states and the District of Columbia, with the majority offering online betting. It is one of the biggest gambling expansions in US history and has raised fears of an impending peak in problem gamblers.

According to the NCPG, about two million adults in the United States meet the criteria for serious gambling problems, and studies have shown that sports betting, especially when done online, has an impact. higher prevalence of problem gambling than gambling in general.

Whyte has said anecdotally that he has seen an increase in the number of calls to helplines for gambling issues in recent years as legal sports betting has grown. It plans to improve the quality of the hotline experience through certifying training for workers and upgrading technology that will lead to better data collection and earlier detection of issues.

NFL funding allows the NCPG to launch a national grant program to improve local and statewide problem gambling services and develop prevention programs, including for youth.

The NFL has worked with the NCPG on a “simple and straightforward” tone for posts that will appear on league media platforms, as well as content from broadcast and sports betting partners. Whyte believes the voice of the NFL will help destigmatize problem players.

“Maybe the power of the NFL megaphone is even more important than the grant,” Whyte said.

Halpin, who oversees the NFL’s approach to sports betting in the United States and has had friends struggling with gambling issues, has studied the mature betting markets in the United Kingdom and Australia and consulted with leading leagues for best practices. After learning about the pitfalls these markets face – over-saturation of betting advertising and increasing gambling problems – Halpin felt that the NFL had a responsibility to help the growing legal market in the United States avoid similar errors.

The NFL has limited the frequency of sports betting advertisements on national broadcasts and is now launching the largest public message campaign the problem gambling industry has ever seen.

“Collectively, all of us in the sports and betting industries need to learn from international examples and ensure that the development of education and support programs matches the state-by-state growth of legalized sports betting,” said Halpin. .

Sports betting operators Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel, who each have official partnerships with the NFL, will participate in the campaign to encourage bettors to set and stick to affordable prices, to use licensed operators. and regulated and to seek help if necessary.

“This is a fabulous opportunity to get the word out to a wider audience and really normalize the dialogue,” said Christine Thurmond, Director of Responsible Gaming at DraftKings. “Not only operators, but leagues and advocacy groups are coming together to work in a way that collectively spurs innovation and education in the field. [responsible gaming] space out. I think it’s a win-win. “

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