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Is US sports betting headed for trouble?

15 September 2022

This week's gambling news finds that the amazing expansion of U.S. sports betting has led to relentless competition between sports betting operators. FanDuel, DraftKings, and others are trying so desperately to grab as much market share as possible, pouring millions into advertising and marketing campaigns. But will the barrage of commercials, sponsorships, and endorsements eventually lead to push back from the American people or government agencies?

In sports betting news, it's been just four short years since the Supreme Court decision that opened the door for the regulation of U.S. sports betting there are now 36 states which regulate the activity. What’s more is that in four more years the US sports gambling market is expected to be the largest in the world, worth over $24 billion. That’s all is fine and well… until it isn’t. Those of us who remember the gambling news of the online poker rush in the early 2000’s will recall a flurry of commercials, sponsorship deals, and celebrity endorsements. A flurry very similar to what we are seeing now for American sports bets, albeit in a different circumstance. But where online poker was being promoted in a legal grey area, sports betting is clearly legal in those places where the ads are running. And yet, for the likes of FanDuel, DraftKings, and others, it does feel as if history will repeat itself.

Part of this feeling comes from watching the melodrama of sports betting in Britain. In a country that regulated online sports betting 20 years ago, and allowed gambling advertising everywhere from taxi cabs to the shirts of soccer players, there was a slow but deliberate groundswell against how prolific those ads became. The ant-gambling establishment in the U.K. was able to use those aggressive advertising campaigns and tactics against the industry itself. Pushing the dangers of those ads being seen by children and addicts. Claiming that sponsorship deals send the wrong message. Warning that endorsements encourage behavior that can lead to problem gambling. And yet, facts are that true gambling addiction accounts for less than 1% of the population. Or in simpler terms, over 99% of the population does not have a problem with gambling.