Penn removing “risk-free” from all its gambling marketing materials

Risk-free marketing ban Penn
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As regulators in North America contemplate stricter marketing rules for online operators, Penn Entertainment took a proactive step forward on Tuesday. During a meeting with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), Deputy Chief Compliance Officer and Regulatory Affairs Counsel Samantha Haggerty told the commissioners Penn and its subsidiary Penn Interactive would be revising its marketing choices going forward.

During her presentation about Penn Interactive’s measures to ensure responsible gambling messaging in marketing, Haggerty revealed a contentious term would not be used by the company going forward.

“To further illustrate Penn and PI’s commitment to responsible gaming practices, Penn will not use the term ‘risk-free’ in any retail or online sports wagering marketing materials targeting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Haggerty said. “In fact, to demonstrate our commitment to responsible advertising and gaming, and after hearing the concerns of the MGC and those of other jurisdictions where we operate, the term ‘risk-free’ has been removed from all Penn gambling marketing materials.”

MGC commissioners had previously discussed potential regulations limiting the way online operators presented sign-up offers. Additionally, Ohio regulators compelled operators at launch to take extreme care not to mislead customers with marketing offers during Sunday’s launch.

Last April, Ontario’s ban on inducements was the outlier on marketing limitations, but many regulators are taking note and considering following suit.

The public concern over the way these bets are presented hit the media in late December. In a personal piece from New York Times staffer Rebecca Ruiz, she recalled her experience testing out betting apps and the various offers she received from sportsbooks, including so-called “risk-free” bets.

This is not the first time the recent round of suitability hearings with the MGC has prompted marketing changes from a prospective operator. Just a couple of weeks ago, Caesars Entertainment pledged to pursue no further relationships with college athletic departments. However, the company would not go so far as to agree to terminate its existing agreements with Michigan State University and LSU.