NASCAR, the NHL, UFC, and the PGA Tour are among the other sporting entities that have partnered with the AGA on the Have a Game Plan program, which provides bettors with a four-point plan for keeping their gambling under control. It also provides the National Council on Problem Gambling’s 24-hour hotline should they develop a serious problem with sports wagering. The program also features 20-second spots on the topic of responsible betting that will air on the WFT’s preseason radio and television broadcasts throughout the season.
NEW: @WashingtonNFL becomes the first NFL team to join the AGA's Have A Game Plan responsible sports betting campaign! 🏈
Read more: https://t.co/fb7FG47iPZ
— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) August 16, 2021
“With legal sports betting now permitted across our region, we are ensuring responsible gaming serves as a foundation for how we engage in this exciting commercial market,” Scott Shepherd, the Washington Football Team’s chief partnership officer, said in a press release. “We’re not only proud to partner with the AGA, the architect of Have A Game Plan, but also proud to lead by educating fans as they enjoy football in an engaging, new way.”
Yet this partnership was met with swift criticism in some corners of gambling Twitter. To wit, professional gambler Captain Jack Andrews (that’s a pseudonym) wrote that the WFT had made “a crucial misstep,” adding that “if they were serious about promoting responsible gambling,” they would “partner with an organization like the National Council on Problem Gambling, not the lobbying arm of the casinos.”
Crucial misstep by @WashingtonNFL here. If they were serious about promoting responsible gaming, partner with an organization like @NCPGambling, not the lobbying arm of the casinos. https://t.co/bkhp8LZgDR
— Captain Jack Andrews (@capjack2000) August 16, 2021
Conflicted or complementary?
When asked about this perceived conflict of interest, Casey Clark, the AGA’s senior vice president of strategic communications, countered, “I think it would be irresponsible if we didn’t do anything to help educate consumers on how to do this responsibly. [Sports betting] is a new category that is gaining momentum every day, so our goal is to ensure that consumers understand what this is, what it isn’t, where they can do this legally, how they can do it safely, and enjoy the opportunity that exists here.”
Clark added that, post-PASPA, “Americans have a greater opportunity to bet legally, and I think the industry has an opportunity to ensure that people understand how to do it responsibly.”
For his part, NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte said, “Have a Game Plan is a good, responsible gambling campaign in that it’s intended for the 95% of fans who don’t have a problem. It’s not really intended for or appropriate for people with a gambling problem. We do appreciate that Have a Game Plan includes our helpline number. But for the 5% of sports bettors who have a problem, they need much more than a game plan.
“Telling someone without a problem to not drive drunk is absolutely appropriate,” Whyte added. “Telling an alcoholic to have a drinking plan is not appropriate. That’s why you need a second layer like the NCPG. I think the messages are complementary. You can’t just have one or the other. You need to message to people without problems and you need to message people with problems.”
To Andrews’ specific critique, Whyte said that the NCPG has “been in discussions with the WFT for months now” about becoming a member organization. The National Football League is already aligned with the NCPG.