The NFL has announced a $6.2 million package of spending, dedicated to treating and preventing problem gambling.
The program will be spread over three years and feature the slogan, “Stick to Your Game Plan. Always Bet Responsibly.” It will be rolled out across a wide range of communication outlets including, social media, broadcast, and print – as well as in-game and in-stadium messaging.
Then NFL intends to make fans more mindful of their gambling habits: to put preset limits on wagering, be aware of potential harms, and know who to contact if they find themselves needing help. It has also enlisted the help of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), in order to bolster its national helpline, improve treatment programs, and supply education on responsible gambling.
A survey from the American Gaming Association revealed that over 45 million Americans say intend to gamble on NFL matches this year. An enormous figure, and 36% up on the corresponding figure from last year.
Sports Betting on the Rise
According to Christopher Halpin – the NFL’s executive vice president, chief strategy and growth officer – amongst NFL fans who are 21 or older, roughly 17% say they are frequent sports bettors, and 30% either casual or aspirational bettors (i.e., plan to bet once gambling is legalized in their particular state).
“Sports betting is supposed to be fun,” says Halpin. “We feel it is critical that the NFL uses the power of our voice to educate and encourage fans who choose to gamble to do so in a safe and responsible way. We also recognize that responsible betting programs across the country are under-resourced, especially as legalization spreads nationwide.”
“We will be able to help so many more people as a result of this,” said Keith Whyte, the NCPG’s executive director: “The NFL has set an example for the other professional sports leagues who also need to realize their obligation to address the downside of sports betting as much as they embrace the upside.”
Whyte believes the need for action on problem gambling is growing. In 2018, the state of New Jersey won a Supreme Court case which effectively opened the door for sports betting to be legalized throughout the US. Since then, half of all states have done just that. According to Whyte, the NCPG thinks the risk of harm has doubled in that time.
NFL Committed to Tackling Problem Gambling
The NFL has a number of official partnerships with sports betting companies: DraftKings; FanDuel, and Caesars Entertainment. They all have their own existing programs dedicated to responsible gambling, and the NFL has pledged to work closely with them.
Chris Holdren, co-president of Caesars Digital, highlighted the need for co-operation. He commented, “Anyone with a role in legal gaming shares a mutual interest and critical role in reducing the incidence of and harm caused by problem gambling,”
Christopher Halpin expressed similar sentiments: “As legalization expands, problem gambling grows. For the casual bettor, now is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to teach them what responsible betting looks like: mindfulness, setting betting budgets, knowing your operator, knowing how parlays and other kinds of bets work. We intend to get this right.”