Houston Rockets and DraftKings X activation causes angst

Toyota Center, Houston
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The Houston Rockets came under fire over the weekend after a hastily deleted post on X appeared to promote bets on Jalen Green’s performance in their match against the Memphis Grizzlies

In a post on X, which has since been deleted, the Rockets’ account posted to promote bets on the over/under for whether Green would attempt five three-pointers in the game over the weekend. 

The team also tagged DraftKings in the post, advertising the sportsbook partner that it is intrinsically linked with. 

DraftKings is the exclusive daily fantasy sports, sports betting and igaming partner of the Rockets after the operator purchased Golden Nugget Online Gaming in 2021 for around $1.6bn. 

Golden Nugget was previously owned by Tilman Fertitta, who is also the owner of the Rockets and the partnership was part of the terms of the acquisition. 

Speaking at the time of the acquisition, Fertitta stated: “Together, we can offer value to our combined customer base that is unparalleled. 

“We believe that DraftKings is one of the leading players in this burgeoning space and couldn’t be more excited to lock arms with Jason and the DraftKings family across our entire portfolio of assets, including the Houston Rockets, the Golden Nugget casinos and Landry’s vast portfolio of restaurants. This is a strong commercial agreement for both companies.”

The arrangement gives DraftKings the opportunity to have marketing integrations and sponsorship assets with the team, which may include social media. 

However, given that sports betting is not yet legal in Texas, the post over the weekend caused angst amongst fans and users before it was quickly taken down. 

Moreover, there have been several instances of integrity concerns with professional and collegiate sports in 2023. Five Detroit Lions players were banned for varying periods of time after violating the NFL’s betting guidelines, while up to 50 student-athletes in Iowa have been embroiled in a scandal. 

The NBA joined the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising Priniciples with other major sports leagues back in April, setting standards for its franchises to abide by. 

These rules include: 

  1. Sports Betting Should be Marketed Only to Adults of Legal Betting Age;
  2. Sports Betting Advertising Should Not Promote Irresponsible or Excessive Gambling or Degrade the Consumer Experience;
  3. Sports Betting Advertisements Should Not Be Misleading;
  4.  Sports Betting Advertisements Should Be In Good Taste;
  5. Publishers Should Have Appropriate Internal Reviews of Sports Betting Advertising;
  6. Publishers Should Review Consumer Complaints Pertaining to Sports Betting Advertising.

There may be concerns that the Rockets’ post may have violated the first of these standards, given that there are a large number of minors on the X platform and the post did not feature a 21+ notification. 

Launching the Coalition earlier in the year, the group stated: “As the legalization of sports betting spreads nationwide, we feel it is critical to establish guardrails around how sports betting should be advertised to consumers across the US. 

“Each member of the coalition feels a responsibility to ensure sports betting advertising is not only targeted to an appropriate audience, but also that the message is thoughtfully crafted and carefully delivered.”