Sports Betting Ads Everywhere: The Ban in Colorado

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Colorado legalized sports betting in 2019, and the first legal sports bets were placed in May 2020. Since then, the state has worked at regulating to ensure that sports betting is done responsibly and fairly. Under Colorado law, sports betting ads aren’t supposed to be designed to appeal to minors or feature any individuals who are likely to appeal to minors. This means sports betting ads can’t have cartoon characters or celebrities who are popular with children. 

Despite the existing law in 2021, the Lineup reported that some Coloradans felt some sportsbooks, such as FanDuel and BetMGM, turned up the heat on their advertising and were becoming more aggressive. The Democratic speaker of the Colorado House of  Representatives, Alec Garnett, also indicated that the influx of commercials could come off as obnoxious to some individuals. 

The ban on sports betting ads in Colorado and the US is part of a larger effort to regulate the sports betting industry’s growth. The US Rep. Paul Tonko’s proposal was introduced on February 9, 2023. The proposal was that sports betting ads should be treated like cigarettes and banned from Radio, TV, and the internet in America 

The president of the American Gaming Association, Bill Miller, feels that Tonko’s proposal could hinder moving people from the illegal market to the legal betting market. He also mentioned that they would meet with Tonko and make him understand why sports betting advertising is so important.  

What the Gambling Industry Has to Say 

The sports betting industry won’t take the news lying down as they unite against the proposed legislation and have already reached out to US Rep. Paul Tonko over his proposal. As Paul Tonko calls it, the Betting on Our Future Act has led to an increase in opposition from sports betting stakeholders.

The main aim of this legislation is to prohibit any sports betting advertising or marketing. The proposed law has made people who run sportsbooks more concerned about keeping the federal government out of their business. People with a stake in the matter are warning that the federal ban on advertising will most likely have bad effects. It will likely harm those looking for a way to solve their problems or find the right responsible gambling services.

The ban only makes the black market flourish, says Martin Lycka, the Senior Vice President of American Regulatory Affairs and responsible gaming for Entain. According to them, this one size fits all concept of outright banning gambling ads won’t work because all states have different legislatures governing sports betting and other forms of gambling.

Facts on the Colorado Sports Betting Scene

  • In Colorado, sports betting was legalized in November 2019.
  • The legalization required voter approval via a referendum due to the Colorado taxpayer Bill of Rights.
  • Sports betting in Colorado was launched in retail and online in May 2020.
  • All sportsbook apps must partner with casinos located in Colorado.
  • Principal actors in sports, such as players, coaches, and referees, can’t legally bet on their sports.
  • You must be 21 or older to bet on sports in Colorado. 
  • Colorado does not permit betting on esports, high school sports, or events with participants younger than 18. 
  • All retail sportsbooks in Colorado are available in the three towns, except sports books at tribal casinos.
  • In the first 18 months, Colorado sportsbooks booked more than $5 billion in wagers.

The Future of Sports Betting Marketing in Colorado 

The future of sports betting marketing in Colorado is uncertain due to the proposed ban on sports betting ads that is currently being discussed and could potentially impact all states in the US, including Colorado. Meta has made its own rules for most of its social media platforms and is now asking companies that want to advertise online gambling to provide written permission and proof that they are licensed by the right authority.

The driving force behind the proposed ban is the overabundance of sports betting ads. The question remains: how many sports betting ads are too many? Professional sports leagues, consumers, players, and TV stations are all asking for answers.

Cait DeBaun, Vice President of Strategic Communications and Responsibility at the American Gaming Association, emphasized that advertising is essential in driving bettors to safe and regulated markets. She also cited research indicating that all ads target the appropriate audience. At the moment, the proposed rules about the ad ban are still being talked about, and it’s not clear what effect they will have on the future of sports betting marketing in Colorado.