AGA Says Advertising Restrictions Could Limit Success Of Maine Sportsbooks

Written By Derek Helling on February 27, 2023Last Updated on March 9, 2023
advertising restrictions maine sports betting comments

As regulators prepare to finalize regulations and consider license applications for Maine sports betting, the American Gaming Association has made its assessment of the proposed rules. The trade group for gambling operators sees a flaw with the current draft.

The rules propose restrictions on how and where licensed sportsbooks can advertise themselves in the state. The AGA says that could set those books at a disadvantage and nullify some of the benefits to the state.

Draft Maine sports betting rules impose ad restrictions

The Maine Gambling Control Unit published a set of provisional regulations for sports betting in January. Page 52 includes several provisions relevant to sportsbook advertising.

Most of the provisions are quite innocuous and standard. For example, there are rules against targeting people under the age of 21, using animated characters, and including responsible gambling content.

However, not all of the restrictions are so commonplace. For example, the rules would limit television advertisements for sportsbooks in terms of when such ads may be broadcast.

 “Television advertising may only take pla ce during an event and only on the channel that the event is being telecast when wagers on that event are offered by a licensed operator in Maine.”

Furthermore, the ads restrict the content of such ads.

“Television advertising shall not advertise promotions and/or bonuses.”

Another controversial tenet is a rule on who can appear in such ads.

“The use of…professional or Olympic athletes, celebrities or entertainers is prohibited.”

These provisions have raised some eyebrows across the country. Now, the AGA has unfurled its brow and made its feelings known.

AGA sounds off on proposed regulations

A letter from AGA President Bill Miller that the AGA shared with Playin USA lays out the AGA’s position on the draft rules in Maine. The letter does not point out any specific language from the rules. Rather, it discusses advertising restrictions generally.

The AGA argues that such restrictions “will undermine a critical tool that the legal industry uses to inform the public about licensed operators.” It also states such limitations could “empower illegal sportsbooks, and limit the success of the legal market in Maine.”

To support its stance, it cites its own research that showed bettors can suffer from confusion about which sportsbooks are legal. The restrictions, therefore, could be counterproductive in terms of pulling activity away from the black market, the AGA says.

“Placing broad and overly burdensome restrictions on legal sportsbooks will only exacerbate the competitive advantages enjoyed by illegal operators.”

The AGA could find out whether its please have fallen on deaf ears soon.

Regulations finalization looming nearby

Earlier this month, the Maine Gambling Control Unit released license application forms. That gave interested parties their first crack at getting all the necessary materials together. It also signaled that regulators could approve regulations soon.

Should these provisions survive into the final version of the rules, it could harm interest in the state on the part of major online sportsbook operators. As the 42nd-most populous state in the US, that interest was probably already not as high as it has been for other markets.

Sportsbooks like FanDuel may still end up in the state. Maine residents might not know about it, though, if the rules remain static and the AGA’s predictions are right.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of Playin USA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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