Your Sports Bets and Radio

Contributor: Brad C. Deutsch, Principal, Garvey Schubert Barer, P.C.

It’s Been Just Over a Year Since the Supreme Court Opened the Floodgates – So, Can Radio Finally Start Taking Ads?

In May 2018, the Supreme Court sided with the State of New Jersey in Murphy v. NCAA, and struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), which was a federal statute that prohibited states themselves from legalizing sports betting.[1]

While the Supreme Court’s decision did not automatically make sports betting legal, the decision did open the door for each state to decide whether sports betting should be legal within its borders.

So far, in addition to Nevada, seven other states have now legalized and begun sports betting operations.[2]  And another seven states (plus DC) have legalized sports betting but have yet to open up shop.[3]  All told, there are only seven states that have yet to start down the road to legalization.[4]

Advertising Sports Betting on Your Station

With this rush to legalize sports betting, there has also been a rush to accept advertising for sports betting, especially on sports format stations.  But broadcasters should still proceed with extreme caution.

First and foremeost, make sure that sports betting is legal in your station’s community of license.  Even if your station predominantly serves listeners in a state where sports betting is legal, or if your station is licensed to a community in an adjacent state where it is not yet legal, you could be taking on serious risk with your FCC license by taking ads for sports betting.  In any event, take a look at your state’s gaming commission website or contact your attorney for information about your state’s sports betting laws.

Second, you should look into whether your state has any regulations that explicitly restrict sports betting ads.  These regulations would be specific to your state and they might require or prohibit specific ad content, or might even restrict the type of programming or the time of day that an ad can run.  In addition to becoming familiar with any restrictions on sports betting ads in your state, if you decide to accept sports betting ads, you might want to consider getting a certification from your sports betting advertisers that their ads are compliant with state law requirements.  On a related note, you might also want to require that your sports betting advertisers comply with the American Gaming Association’s recently adopted self-regulations for sports betting ads.

Finally, it would be a good idea to double-check whether your program contracts have any restrictions on specific types of advertising that might include sports betting.  For example, some sports league contracts have terms that likely restrict sports betting ads.

Although sports betting is an exciting new ad category – and one that might drive even greater listenership and loyalty during live sports programming – this is a very new area of the law and broadcasters should take great care as you run down this field.

Are you betting on this category as a win for radio?

[1] PAPSA’s ban did not apply to Nevada.

[2] Delaware, Mississippi, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey (of course, since they brought the legal challenge to begin with).

[3] Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New York, Tennessee and Washington D.C.

[4] Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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