The NFL is putting its voice and money behind an initiative to build a more secure sports betting ecosystem in the US.
On Wednesday, the NFL launched a public awareness campaign on responsible gambling that includes a three-year, $ 6.2 million partnership with the National Council on Problems Gambling (NCPG). It is the largest grant ever awarded to the NCPG and, according to CEO Keith Whyte, nearly doubles the annual budget of the Washington, DC-based nonprofit that was founded in 1972.
“The problem gambling field is 20 years behind on substance abuse, and this grant will help us catch up,” Whyte told ESPN. “It’s huge. It will really help us to help more people.”
The initiative will fund state and local resources on problem gambling, modernize the national hotline, develop the resonsibleplay.org website, and promote responsible gaming messages on the league’s media platforms. Responsible gaming television spots featuring retired coaches and players will begin airing later this fall.
“We believe it is critical that the NFL use the power of our voice to educate and encourage fans who choose to bet to do so in a safe and responsible manner,” said Christopher Halpin, executive vice president and chief strategy and growth officer for the NFL. NFL. in a statement announcing the campaign. “We also recognize that responsible gambling programs across the country are under-resourced, especially as legalization spreads across the country.”
Three years after a landmark United States Supreme Court ruling, legal bookmakers are operating in 28 states and the District of Columbia, with most offering online gambling. It’s one of the biggest expansions of the game in US history and has sparked fears of a pending increase in problem players.
According to the NCPG, an estimated two million adults in the US meet the criteria for serious gambling problems, and studies have shown that sports betting, especially when conducted online, has a higher prevalence of gambling problems than gambling in general.
Whyte said anecdotally that he has seen increases in calls to problem gambling hotlines in recent years as legal sports betting has expanded. He plans to improve the quality of the hotline experience through certification training for workers and by upgrading technology that will lead to better data collection and earlier problem detection.
NFL funding enables the NCPG to launch a national grant program to improve state and local problem gambling services and develop prevention programs, including for youth.
The NFL worked with the NCPG in a “plain and direct” tone for the messages that will appear on the league’s media platforms, as well as the content of broadcasts and sports betting partners. Whyte believes the voice of the NFL will help destigmatize problem players.
“Perhaps even bigger than the grant is the power of the NFL’s megaphone,” Whyte said.
Halpin, who oversees the NFL’s approach to sports betting in the US and has had friends who struggle with problem gambling, studied the mature betting markets in the UK and Australia and consulted with major leagues to learn about the better practices. After learning of the cheating, those markets suffered from gambling advertising oversaturation and an increase in the gambling problem, Halpin felt the NFL had a responsibility to help the growing legal market in the US. avoid similar mistakes.
The NFL has put frequency caps on sports betting ads during national broadcasts and is now launching the largest public messaging campaign the problem gambling field has ever seen.
“Together, all of us who work in the sports and betting industries must learn from international examples and ensure that the development of education and support programs matches the state-by-state growth in legalized sports betting,” he said. Halpin.
Sports betting operators Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel, which have official partnerships with the NFL, will participate in the campaign that focuses on encouraging bettors to establish and stick with affordable, licensed and regulated operators, and ask for help if needed. .
“It’s a terrific 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 also leagues and advocacy groups are coming together to work in a way that collectively we can stimulate innovation and education in the [responsible gaming] space. I think it is beneficial for everyone. “