Introducing sports betting ads
With sports betting now legal on a federal level in the US, the NBA is slowly but surely adding sports betting advertising into its broadcasts and overall digital content distribution.
Scott Kaufman-Ross, senior vice-president of the NBA’s fantasy and gaming department, says the NBA is working closely with its broadcast partners and the sportsbook operators to implement ads in a manner that is sensible and not overwhelming for viewers.
There will be no nationwide campaigns as of yet, as only 11 states have legal sports betting to date in some shape or form. However, this could change in the future as more states take this step.
Kaufman-Ross said: “Should it be done on platforms that can be geo-targeted to places where it is legal, or broadcast platforms where there are local availabilities in local stations? Those are the types of things we’re looking at.
“Certainly, as sports betting becomes legal in more states… more national broadcasting will make sense. But finding that right balance is going to be very important in the early years.”
Trend to restrict gambling ads
The NBA will be looking at the strategies of other sports in global markets to see what they have done well and not so well with their advertising practices.
There is also a growing trend around the world for more restrictive gambling advertising policies. Italy has introduced a blanket ban on gambling advertising, with Spain looking to implement something similar.
There are calls for no more television ads, sports team sponsorships and pitchside advertising for gambling companies in the UK. Japan and Australia also have policies that limit the extent of gambling advertising.
The free-to-play approach
While the NBA waits for the rest of the US to catch up with legal sports betting, it is planning to engage audiences with free-to-play games. These will give prizes to players in the form of giveaways rather than cash. This will enable the league to gather valuable data from these users that they can collate and sell to its advertisers.
Kaufman-Ross said: “It creates an asset where we can use it as sponsorable inventory for our sports betting partners, because those fans have shown a proclivity for and an interest in gaming, rather than just sort of blasting emails to everyone where you don’t know which fans are interesting in gaming and which are not. It’s a very valuable platform for us to learn more about our fans.”
NBA’s approach to sports betting to date
Before the federal ban was overturned, the NBA staunchly opposed sports betting as it did not want the integrity of its sport to be compromised.
Once sports betting became legal, the NBA sought the introduction of integrity fees on a state-by-state basis. This would see a chunk of every sports bet go towards the respective league. However, no state has made an inclusion for an integrity fee to date as part of its final sports betting legislation. This is mainly because the margins of sportsbooks are already tight enough as it is.
The NBA was one of the first major sports league to get on board with an official gaming partner. Its partnership with MGM Resorts involves the sharing of valuable data, while the casino company also helps the league with its integrity systems. The NBA was also the first league to sign up an international sportsbook partner – in this case the French National Lottery.
The NBA also has deals in place with Genius Sports and Sportradar. These companies will help with the collection and distribute real-time game data. This can then be sold to sportsbooks across the world. Accurate and fast data is vital for sportsbooks as in-play betting is so popular.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes that legal sports betting will actually make it less likely for players to engage in corruption. This is why the league is embracing the sector.