Throughout 2023, industry and regulatory debates have focused on the use of terms like “free bet”, risk-free, and the like. Ohio, Massachusetts regulators have moved to ban terms from licensees’ marketing materials.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is now making similar demands on its own license holders.
SBC Americas received an email last Friday from licensees asking that promotional materials be updated to reflect the latest guidance.
Marketing material containing betting promotions, bonuses, and credits must comply with the clear guidelines and standards established by Kevin O’Toole .
- If the bonus, credit or promotion is not free, it cannot be called free. Termes like “risk-free”, which refer to players who have to lose or risk their own money, are prohibited.
- If the player has to lose money or risk losing their winnings, the bet is not considered risk-free.
This announcement comes just after Barstool Sportsbook ran their Can’t Lose Parlay Offer in Massachusetts. It sparked a debate about whether or not it violates the Massachusetts Gaming Commission advertising guidelines.
The MGC is currently deciding on how it will investigate and possibly reprimand Barstool regarding the promotion at the time of writing.
Similar breaches were also identified in Ohio. BetMGM and Caesars were all criticized for using risk-free marketing materials during the initial week of online sports betting. Wednesday’s BetMGM acceptance of $150,000 from the Ohio Casino Control Commission means that all three operators have agreed pay the six-figure penalties related to their advertising.
It is evident that PGCB is joining regulators in MA and OH in banning or limiting the use “free bets”, risk-free and similar terms. This is not something that will change anytime soon. It remains to be seen if operators will adjust their advertising practices in order to adhere to the regulations.