US Sports Betting Operators To Retire “Risk Free” Phrase

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on February 9, 2023
NBA bans term

When it comes to US sports betting operators advertising NBA bets, the term “risk-free” won’t apply anymore. 

The NBA has banned sportsbooks from using the phrase “risk-free” in advertising on the league and team-controlled platforms. The NBA is also encouraging broadcasters to do the same.

US sports betting operators can no longer use “risk-free”

In response to concerns raised by responsible gambling advocates, FanDuel dropped the term from its sportsbooks, replacing it with “sweat-free.” Other operators that have dropped the term are:

  • BetMGM
  • DraftKings
  • Caesars

Speaking with Sports Business Journal, Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA senior vice president who heads gaming and new business ventures, said:

“We believe it’s a problematic term from a responsible gaming and a problem gaming standpoint. It’s important that we be clear with our fans that sports betting carries inherent risk. The notion that anything in this area is risk-free runs counter to the key messaging and education around sports betting. We just feel it’s the right move for us.”

Kaufman-Ross said the league hopes “risk-free” will disappear from spots on league and team broadcasts by next season. Casey Clark, senior vice president at the American Gaming Association, said he believes operators were already heading in that direction. 

“We always knew all of this would have to evolve. Once we got into operation at scale, we would have to look at what was working and what wasn’t and how to ensure we’re creating a viable and sustainable market. This is a product of that evolution.”

Ohio, Maine and Massachusetts also restrict the problematic term

Regarding state implementation, Ohio was the first to ban any reference to “free,” including “risk-free” in sports betting advertising. A week after Ohio sports betting launched, regulators issued a $150,000 fine to Caesars, DraftKings and BetMGM, finding each had violated the rule.

Massachusetts regulators will also restrict the phrase when online sports betting launches. In terms of the most extreme, Maine regulators have proposed banning all sportsbook promotional offers. 

“There is certainly a trend toward an industrywide pivot away from this terminology,” Kaufman-Ross said. “We felt that we were well positioned to make this change and be a market leader in this regard.”

Photo by PlayUSA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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