Sports Betting Industry Takes the Initiative, Between the Super Bowl and March Madness, to Educate Consumers

By Holt Hackney

The days when you approached the neighborhood bookie to place clandestine bets on sporting events are getting further and further in the rearview mirror.


But that doesn’t mean the path is clear for would-be bettors.

It seems reasonable to assume that more novice bettors place wagers in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl through March Madness than any other time of the year. And unlike the frequent gamblers, newbies are more likely to make mistakes.

That’s why some organizations in the gambling industry are doing their best to clear that aforementioned path and give the newbies a positive experience.

iDEA, for example, has created what it calls “a comprehensive guide to industry integrity and best practices in online gaming and betting.”

Called iDEA’s Responsible Gaming Pillars, the document brings structure to the organization as it holds stakeholders “to the highest standards of quality, and that ensures the integrity of the online gaming industry.” 

Leveraging the experience and knowledge of our membership from various sectors of the online gaming industry allows iDEA to fulfill its mission as “a clearinghouse for responsible gaming solutions that can be shared with policymakers across the country. 

Another organization making a positive difference is Conscious Gaming, which earlier this month launched “Bettor Safe,” a national campaign to educate consumers about the risks of betting on illegal websites and the benefits of legal and regulated gaming options if they choose to wager. 

Accompanying the campaign launch, two state-specific initiatives, Bettor Safe New Jersey and Bettor Safe Pennsylvania, were also rolled out with the goal to soon have a presence in other states.

Organizers of the campaign are leveraging a multi-channel approach that they hope will reach consumers through advertisements, videos, an informational website, and state-specific resources. The goals are to empower individuals to know where online betting is legal and distinguish between regulated and unregulated sites.

“This campaign comes at a pivotal moment when American sports fans are gearing up for the NCAA basketball tournament amid a pandemic that continues to push individuals online,” said Conscious Gaming VP of Corporate Social Responsibility & Communications Seth Palansky. “We must educate consumers and equip them with the tools to make more informed decisions about online betting.” 

Today, 15 states and the District of Columbia offer some form of legal online betting. This includes sports betting, iGaming, and poker. But recent data suggests persistent confusion among consumers about online betting. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), 35 percent of individuals are unaware if online betting is legal or illegal in their state, leading many of them to wager on unregulated sites. 

A recent survey conducted by Conscious Gaming on behalf of the Bettor Safe campaign polled more than 500 adults in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, respectively, on their habits and attitudes towards online betting. It revealed that about 75 percent of New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents could not or are not sure if they could differentiate a legal betting site from an illegal website.

“The regulator community sees, firsthand, the risks that illegal gambling present to consumers and state governments. We cannot cede the established rules and safeguards of regulated internet gaming to offshore websites that have zero accountability,” noted the North American Gaming Regulators Association in a statement.

The good news for all industry participants is that the tide is changing, as more and more Americans learn about the responsible ways to gamble on sports, in general, and online betting, specifically. March Madness will be one more valuable step along that path.