Bill Miller takes to USA Today to defend regulated market as NBA Finals continue

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The American Gaming Association President Bill Miller has reasserted the importance of the regulated sports betting industry in protecting players from harm as the NBA Finals series will usher in a spike in betting volume. 

Writing an op-ed in USA Today over the weekend, Miller explained that the legal sports betting market, and the subsequent responsible advertising, keeps players away from illegal and offshore sites, which he states was a huge problem before 2018.

“Does anyone really believe problem gambling didn’t exist before 2018 when illegal sports betting was an annual $150bn market?,” Miller wrote. “Illegal sports betting does not generate any money to support problem gambling programs. Today, nearly every dollar that states earmark for problem gambling services – $94m in 2021 alone – comes from casino gaming taxes, including rising revenues from sports betting.   

“In part, that’s because as legal betting grows, the illegal market is shrinking – from $150bn to about $64bn last year. In 2019, less than half of online bets took place legally; today, more than 3 out of 4 occur in legal, regulated markets.”    

Miller highlighted the work that the sports betting industry and the AGA are doing to improve the protection of players, such as through the update of its Responsible Marketing Code For Sports Wagering. This update banned things such as the use of “risk-free” in marketing materials as well as ruling out college partnerships as the industry aims to strengthen its RG credentials. 

Yet the AGA’s lead took aim at certain state authorities, which he said were not doing their part in helping fund RG projects and programs. He noted that governments should provide dedicated funds for problem gambling treatment rather than general funds.

He added: “States should dedicate funding to advance responsible gaming education and problem gambling services, not divert it for general use. This includes funding for proactive consumer education, research and problem gambling treatment – building upon our industry’s investments in responsible gaming tools and education.    

“The money is there. Sports betting has generated $3bn in taxes for state governments since 2018. Yet some jurisdictions are diverting resources intended to fight problem gambling. For example, in Washington, D.C., the city council approved the mayor’s budget plan for 2024 that doesn’t take advantage of the funding raised for problem gambling.” 

In his op-ed, Miller also made other demands, such as regulators allowing operators to promote a single, national problem gambling hotline.