Reports surfaced last week that Facebook changed its online gambling advertisement rules, requiring companies to receive written permission from Facebook’s parent company, Meta, to run ads promoting online gambling.
Sports Handle has learned that the gambling informational page widely circulated last week wasn’t a substantive change to the policies at the technology conglomerate. Instead, the page added clarification on Meta’s gambling advertising rules. Facebook has required written permission for online gambling advertisements since 2009.
“When illegal gambling sites advertise on trusted platforms, it misleads consumers into thinking these sites are legitimate,” Cait DeBaun, vice president of strategic communications and responsibility at the American Gaming Association, said. “It’s encouraging to see Meta leading on this issue and we hope more stakeholders recognize the importance of not lending these predatory sites the legitimacy they seek.”
Meta’s policy on gambling ads
In addition to written permission, companies looking to run advertisements for online gambling must also “provide evidence that the gambling activities are appropriately licensed by a regulator, or otherwise established as lawful in territories they want to target.”
Online gambling ads, such as sports betting promotions, running on Facebook aren’t allowed to target any users under 18 years old.
Physical casino advertisements don’t require Meta’s written permission, as long as a landing page doesn’t promote online betting. State and government lotteries are also allowed to run ads, “as long as the advertiser is directly or exclusively responsible for running the lottery.” Free-to-play game advertisements are also allowed to run without written permission from Meta.
Those policies weren’t added last week, although some of the Meta pages spelling out their advertisement policies have been recently created.
The future of sports betting marketing
An overabundance of sports betting ads has been a topic of industry conversations for years, and those conversations are still ongoing. How many sports betting ads are too many? It’s not just consumers asking that question, as even professional sports leagues, TV stations, and players wonder the same.
It’s been a topic of discussion for months in Massachusetts, where a sports betting launch is coming in the near future. It’s a worthwhile conversation, especially as other states deal with similar concerns. Mobile sports betting launched in Maryland last week, and Twitter feeds were inundated with ads from mobile sports betting operators.
“The fact is, advertising is essential to driving bettors to the protections of the safe, regulated legal market,” DeBaun said. “And while we’ll see spikes around big sporting events and new market launches, our research shows that we’re effectively targeting our advertising to the appropriate audiences. Unlike the predatory, illegal market, we have a vested interest in building long-term, responsible relationships with customers.”
Twitter’s advertising policies allow for sports betting ads in the U.S. with certain restrictions. Twitter’s policies are more vague than Meta’s, as the site’s gambling information page says “ads must include appropriate disclaimers” and the ads “must comply with all of Twitter’s ad policies.” Sports betting ads may also “be subject to additional requirements at Twitter’s sole discretion.”
Even with some restrictive policies in place, a number of users were frustrated with the volume of advertisements leading up to and during Maryland’s mobile launch.
Twitter advertising gone awry:
– I keep expressing my lack of interest in sports betting apps by blocking ads like this, but Twitter keeps delivering more;
– I don’t follow any sports/betting related account;
– I live in OH, not Maryland.
— Alan Rosca (@alanrosca) November 30, 2022
Dear Maryland sports betting outfits:
Yes, I voted to legalize sports betting in this state.
No, I do not want to see your ads every other minute on Twitter.
— Rushad “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” Thomas (@rushadthomas) November 27, 2022
Apple recently dealt with criticism when an App Store update led to several gambling apps being suggested to users as apps they “might like.” One user even saw the suggestion under a gambling addiction recovery app. Apple quickly paused those gambling ads.
While sports betting has become less taboo since PASPA’s repeal in 2018, companies in the U.S. market are still searching for an amount of marketing that reaches customers without being overwhelming. Meta clarifying its gambling advertising policy is an example of a company aiming to be proactive about setting standards in the space, but there’s significant work left to please customers frustrated with an ungodly volume of advertisements.