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ESPN And UNLV Gaming Institute Start Initiative To Improve Betting Practices

Written By J.R. Duren on November 17, 2023
Man On Laptop Media Research Graphic with ESPN and UNLV logos

With ESPN Bet now live after a much-anticipated wait, the popular sports media company has announced it’s joining with the renowned UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI) to start an initiative focused on improving sports betting practices and analyzing how sports betting impacts media.

ESPN’s announcement is relatively typical of sports betting companies that want to foster goodwill when they launch as well as learn more about responsible gaming.

ESPN and IGI program deep dives into responsible gambling

The collaboration between ESPN and IGI will focus on five aspects of sports betting:

  1. Enhancing responsible gambling: IGI will do a thorough review of the current regulatory practices and find ways to improve engagement in responsible gambling practices by bettors and ESPN employees.
  2. In-depth research: IGI and international scholars will provide research-based insights into “policies, messaging, technology” and other areas of sports betting.
  3. Review of marketing practices: IGI will work with ESPN Bet to review the operator’s marketing and promotional materials and make sure they’re functioning responsibly in both areas.
  4. Create a responsible gambling program: IGI and ESPN will collaborate to build ESPN Bet’s responsible gambling programs.
  5. Thought leadership: IGI and ESPN will use what they learn from research to inform C-level leaders in the media space about key areas in sports betting.

IGI Executive Brett Abarbanel said in a UNLV press release that research and understanding are a must in an age when sports betting is exploding in the United States.

“We are thrilled to have ESPN’s support for research, education, and innovation in the responsible, sustainable representation of sports betting in the media. The growth of betting and gambling subjects in US media have exploded in the past five years.

So, too, have calls for extended research and thought leadership alongside this proliferation of content. ESPN is a market leader in sports media, and collaboratively we will advance local, national, and global discussions on sports, while also establishing UNLV’s IGI as the academic hub for thought leadership in this important area.”

Research at a time when media and sports betting are intertwined

In theory, the research that IGI and ESPN hope to complete should provide some solid insight into the intersection between media and sports betting.

Ten years ago, betting lines and bad beats rarely appeared on “SportsCenter” and similar shows. These days, betting is pervasive, both in the conversations show hosts have to the commercials and branding seen during a broadcast.

The growing relationship between sports media and sports betting deserves solid research in all areas, including responsible message and marketing, and media ethics in the age of sports betting.

“Our investment reflects our commitment to ensuring that the world of sports betting is not only entertaining but also responsible,” ESPN Vice President of Corporate Citizenship Kevin Martinez said. “We are eager to work alongside UNLV’s International Gaming Institute in advancing industry standards.”

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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