The NBA is banning sportsbook operators from advertising with the term “risk-free” on all NBA platforms. This is a growing movement in the sports betting industry as operators and regulators look to prioritize responsible gaming practices.
“Risk-Free” Loses Popularity
The movement actually began in July when FanDuel Sportsbook replaced “risk-free bet” with “no sweat bet” in their promotional material. It then took center stage when Ohio launched sports betting on Jan. 1 and the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) implemented strict responsible gaming standards that operators were to comply with upon launch. One of these requirements was to terminate all use of the term “risk-free” in their advertising. The OCCC proved just how serious they were about these standards as just days into the launch, they fined several operators hundreds of thousands of dollars for violating this specific requirement.
BetMGM, Caesars, and DraftKings were among the operators fined for violating such requirements. All three operators have since ditched the “risk-free” terminology altogether – in Ohio or otherwise. They’ve turned to using “bet credits” and “bonus bets” instead.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), which recently facilitated the launch of retail sports betting in Massachusetts and will do so for online sports betting in March, also banned the term “risk-free” for its operators.
Tonight's 8-game slate starts with the East's #1 seed in the Celtics, and ends with the Bucks, right on their tail, seeking 8 straight wins!
— NBA (@NBA) February 6, 2023
NBA Becomes First Sports League To Ban “Risk-Free”
The NBA has now followed suit. “There is certainly a trend toward an industrywide pivot away from this terminology,” Scott Kaufman-Ross, NBA’s Head of Gaming and New Business Ventures, told Sports Business Journal. “We felt that we were well positioned to make this change and be a market leader in this regard.”
“We believe it’s a problematic term from a responsible gaming and a problem gaming standpoint,” Kaufman-Ross said. “It’s important that we be clear with our fans that sports betting carries inherent risk. The notion that anything in this area is risk-free runs counter to the key messaging and education around sports betting. We just feel it’s the right move for us.”
The new ban applies to NBA’s official sports betting partners, FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as other operators that appear on NBA TV, NBA.com, and team-specific social media. The NBA will also encourage its broadcasters to stray from the language. The league wants to see “risk-free” nonexistent by next season at the latest.
The TOTAL POINTS and POINTS PER GAME leaders through Week 16 of the @NBA season.
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) February 6, 2023
NBA Joins AGA’s Have A Game Plan.® Bet Responsibly.™
The announcement to ban “risk-free” from advertising comes just a week after the NBA announced that it would be joining the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Have A Game Plan. ® Bet Responsibly.™ campaign.
The campaign partnership will educate basketball fans on the importance of responsible gaming by providing resources and information via social media, broadcasting, and in-venue signage.
Prior to their partnership with the AGA, the NBA was already featuring public service announcements during games, restrictions on sports betting advertisements, and had a membership with the National Council on Problem Gambling.
“Responsible gaming is an integral component of the NBA’s approach to legal sports betting,” said Kaufman-Ross in the press release. “Working with the AGA on this initiative is an important part of our multifaceted approach to this critical topic and will provide our teams with tools to make a true impact on responsible gaming education in NBA markets across the U.S. and Canada.”