The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted 3-2 on June 29 to require sportsbooks to display a “21-and-over” rule for stadium ads. Commissioners Eileen O’Brien, Jordan Maynard and Nakisha Skinner voted yes, while Chair Cathy Judd-Stein and Commissioner Bradford Hill voted no.
The message should make it clear that Massachusetts sports betting is only available for people 21 and over. Companies will have 90 days to comply, with the rule going into effect as of June 30.
The initial bill included a similar requirement, but it was removed as it was believed to be too restrictive.
Massachusetts’ new ad requirement applies to fixed signage
The request makes Massachusetts the first US state to require operators to include such a warning on standalone logos.
The “21 and over” language will appear on all standalone sports betting logos at Massachusetts’s three major professional sports venues:
- Fenway Park
- TD Garden
- Gillette Stadium
The change applies to fixed signage and is restricted to displays in sports arenas.
The proposed rule would have initially required the “21+” description on public logos, but it was revised to include only sports venues.
Sports teams oppose the new regulation
Three Massachusetts teams submitted a letter to the MGC opposing the regulation:
- Boston Bruins
- Boston Celtics
- Boston Red Sox
Their disagreement centered on the following questions:
- Is there a real likelihood that the display of a logo by itself on a sign might make minors more interested in betting on sports?
- Is it necessary to require a disclaimer accompanying an operator’s branding logo, when the operator’s actual website or in-person sportsbook will have very clear limits preventing minors from registering and placing bets?
- If a particular entity offers both daily fantasy sports contests and sports betting, would the mere display of its logo require a “21 or older” disclaimer, when that limit would not apply to the company’s fantasy games?
- For fixed signs – whether on billboards, buses and trains or in sports venues – would “21 or older” language need to be a particular size in relation to the logo?
- Are there any other examples in the US where a standalone corporate logo is required to be accompanied by a legal disclaimer?
The following Massachusetts sportsbooks were also against the regulation change:
- Barstool Sportsbook