Pennsylvania Sports Betting Regulator Bans ‘Free Bet’ Promo Marketing
Pennsylvania sports betting regulators are the latest to crack down on marketing bets as risk-free, amid an industry-wide shift.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, on Friday, informed PA sports betting operators that the term “free bet” is no longer allowed in the state. That language is also prohibited in Ohio and Massachusetts, the two most recent states to launch sports betting.
The increased regulatory attention led to many operators transitioning to other phrases such as “no sweat” or “free credit” to market their offerings.
Few still use term for PA sports betting
Although most Pennsylvania sports betting operators had already stopped using the terminology on their own, a few have continued to use it, according to Douglas Harbach, a spokesperson with the PGCB.
“There were a small number which are still using the terminology in promotional material and advertising and we requested that they refrain from that term in future advertising and promotions,” Harbach said.
The PGCB did not name specific operators. Most PA sportsbooks offer some form of promo to entice new customers to choose their outfit, though those pitches can vary widely between operators based on a number of factors including market share and maturity.
Turbulent promo bet environment
In Massachusetts, regulators identified marketing free bets as potentially misleading, as most require a bettor to put down money, thus making them not devoid of risk. Typically, a promotional bet or deposit match involves betting credit award to a new user if they lose their original bet.
Massachusetts also prohibits marketers from “suggesting that success is guaranteed.” The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is set to hold a hearing on Barstool‘s “Can’t Lose Parlay” this week.
Operators in Ohio already face potential fines for violating ad rules, though some are still calling their offers free. The national versus local nature of sports betting advertising, which sportsbooks like DraftKings have moved to with more states online, could make it a safer bet to nix the “free” language for good, especially amid the sea change in regulation.