As we approach Super Bowl Sunday, traditionally one of the biggest sports betting days of the year, sportsbook operators and their marketing agencies should be wary of marketing their promotions as “risk-free,” as regulators are cracking down on the use of such language.  

In early January, for example, the Ohio Casino Control Commission notified BetMGM, Caesars, and DraftKings that it intended to take administrative action against them for violations of Ohio law and administrative rules pertaining to sports betting advertising and promotions – seeking a $150,000 fine from each of them.  The Commission stated that all three companies advertised promotions or bonuses described as “free” or “risk-free” when consumers were required to incur a loss or risk their own money to obtain the promotion – in violation of Commission rules.  (The Commission also stated that these operators violated Ohio law by failing to clearly and conspicuously contain in certain advertisements a message designed to prevent problem gambling.)  Massachusetts law also prohibits the use of “risk-free” language in sportsbook advertisements.

Additionally, following such trend, the NBA recently banned sportsbook operators from using the term “risk free” in advertising that appears on league and team-controlled media platforms.  The ban applies to the league’s official category sponsors as well as other sportsbooks that advertise on such platforms.