Published: January 30, 2024

NFL says Super Bowl viewers will only see 3 sports betting ads during broadcast of the game

Advertisements for sports betting continue to flood the airwaves, but the NFL said Tuesday that viewers will see only three such ads during the Super Bowl broadcast next month.

David Highhill, the NFL’s general manager for sports betting, told reporters there will be one sports betting ad right before kickoff and two others during the game.

The league has set limits on in-game sports betting advertising. But sportsbooks have only bought three such ads for broadcast right before and during the Super Bowl broadcast, fewer than the maximum allowed, NFL spokesperson Alex Riethmiller said.

“We’ve put some policies in place to limit the amount of advertising for sports betting that happens in our live games,” Highhill said. “It’s roughly one ad per quarter. All told, less than 5% of all in-game ads are sports betting ads.”

League officials and the leader of a problem gambling treatment group spoke during an online forum about the NFL’s first Super Bowl in Las Vegas, the nation’s gambling capital. The Kansas City Chiefs will try to defend their title against the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 11.

The topic of sports betting advertising has been contentious for years. Almost as soon as New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2018 clearing the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting (38 currently do, along with Washington, D.C.), sportsbooks flooded the airwaves, print and digital outlets with ads for sports betting.

That led to complaints from some customers, including recovering compulsive gamblers who said the constant enticements to bet make it harder for them to resist doing so. Lawmakers weighed in as well, threatening to impose restrictions on such advertising if sportsbooks could not rein themselves in.

Even the head of the American Gaming Association, Bill Miller, warned at a Dec. 2021 sports betting forum that the level of such ads was becoming “an unsustainable arms race.”

In April 2023, most of the nation’s major professional sports leagues, plus the media companies Fox and NBCUniversal, created an alliance to voluntarily ensure that sports betting advertising is done responsibly and does not target minors.

Highhill said the NFL tends to get blamed for sports betting ads that are beyond its reach. 

The league was one of many professional sports leagues that fought the legalization of sports betting, largely on grounds that it could undermine fans’ perception of the integrity of the games. Now that sports betting has been legal for six years, it is the league’s top priority to maintain that public confidence, said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy.

Part of that effort includes “being mindful of the tenor, volume and saturation of sports betting advertising and the degree with which we’re integrating that into the live game,” Highhill said.

He said the league has been surveying fans since 2019 on their attitudes toward and participation in legal sports betting. While he did not provide statistics, he said the NFL has seen an increase in those who say they like and participate in sports betting, and a decrease in those who don’t.

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