Sports betting operators cut ad spending by over 20% in 2023

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A new study commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA) found sports betting operators cut spending on advertising by over 20% in 2023.

The study, conducted by Nielsen, also found that the volume of sports betting advertising dropped for the second successive year.

Advertising spend drops for the first time since 2016

Overall spending on gambling advertising dropped 14% from its peak of $2 billion in 2022.

Looking more specifically at sports betting advertising, excluding fantasy sports, the study found spending declined 21% year-over-year from $1.4 billion in 2022 to under $1.2 billion last year, the first decline in spending since 2016.

TV advertising spend, the most dominant form of gambling advertising, declined for a second successive year as gambling operators spent 15% less on TV advertising in 2023 compared to 2022.

Sports betting advertising accounted for 64% of TV advertising spend last year and money spent on sports betting advertising dropped from just over $800 million in 2022 to closer to $600 in 2023 

Advertising units continue decline from 2021 peak

Thirty-eight states now offer regulated sports wagering and according to the study as more states legalize sports betting advertising volume will continue to decrease as operators focus on national campaigns rather than localized efforts.

The total number of advertising units tied to sports betting fell 4% year-over-year and has declined over 20% since its peak in 2021. TV advertising units related to sports betting decreased by 11% year-over-year and total TV units have dropped from a peak of $2 million in 2021 to just under $1.5 million units last year.

Sports betting advertising in context

The study also found that sports betting accounted for less than 1% of national TV advertising in 2023 which was less than fast food, alcohol, telecom and pharmaceuticals over the same period.

For every sports betting advertisement on TV in 2023 there were more than three advertisements for telecom/wireless commercials, eight for fast food, and 31 for pharmaceuticals. 

Legislators call for an end to sports betting advertising

Sports betting operators may be spending even less on advertising if legislators get their way.

In March U.S. Rep Paul Tonko introduced federal legislation that aims to regulate gambling as a public health issue. As part of the SAFE Bet Act, the bill will seek to prohibit sports betting advertising during live sporting events.

Tonko’s latest proposal is a next-generation version of his Betting on Our Future Act that he introduced last year. The 2023 version sought to ban all online and electronic advertising of sports gambling.

In Louisiana House Bill 727 is pushing for sports betting ads on TV to be made illegal across the state, while in Kansas a new bipartisan bill aims to prevent sports betting operators from advertising across online media and electric devices.

Upon release of the study, the AGA said that advertising by legal sportsbooks “plays an important role in informing customers about legitimate betting operators” and helps migrate consumers to safe betting options.