New Campaign Aims To Educate U.S. Bettors About Risks Of Offshore Sports Betting

New Campaign Aims To Educate U.S. Bettors About Risks Of Offshore Sports Betting article feature image
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Conscious Gaming

Conscious Gaming launched its Bettor Safe education and awareness campaign Wednesday to help consumers understand the risks from illegal betting sites and the benefits of a regulated market.

The campaign also launched Bettor Safe New Jersey and Bettor Safe Pennsylvania targeted toward bettors in the nation’s two largest sports betting markets by handle.

Conscious Gaming is an independent non-profit created by gaming industry geofencing technology provider GeoComply. The organization works with sportsbook operators, gaming officials, sports leagues and treatment professionals to protect bettors and promote responsible gaming. In September 2020, the group launched PlayPause, a responsible gaming and sports integrity tool that manages self-exclusion and permissible bettor programs.

March is Responsible Gaming Month in the U.S. The 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament — the most perennially most bet-upon sports tournament in America — will begin later this month.

“Bettor Safe underscores Conscious Gaming’s commitment to consumer protection and safety by directly educating individuals about the risks of unregulated online betting,” Seth Palansky, Conscious Gaming VP of Corporate Social Responsibility & Communications, said in a statement.

“This campaign comes at a pivotal moment when American sports fans are gearing up for the NCAA basketball tournament amid a pandemic that continues to push individuals online. Now more than ever we must educate consumers and equip them with the tools to make more informed decisions about online betting.”

Organization Counters Misinformation

Though roughly half of the U.S. population now lives in a state with legal sports betting, gaming advocates are still countering pervasive misinformation about the industry. The American Gaming Association survey reported more than one-third of respondents were unaware about online gaming’s legality in their state.

Top brands such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM are slowly expanding into more states, but offshore, unregulated sportsbooks remain nearly ubiquitous nearly two years after the Supreme Court struck down the federal sports wagering ban. Officials estimate much of the projected $150 billion black sports betting market handle comes from offshore sites or unlicensed bookmakers.

States must individually approve sports betting, then approve and regulate each legal site. Most states have restrictions on the number of permissible legal sites.

This underscores education’s role in not just the nascent sports betting market, but also online casino gaming and real-money poker, Conscious Gaming officials said in a press release. Bettor Safe’s mission is to counter misinformation with easy-to-use, consumer-facing betting resources, including the organization’s website.

“The regulator community sees, firsthand, the risks that illegal gambling presents to consumers and state governments. We cannot cede the established rules and safeguards of regulated internet gaming to offshore websites that have zero accountability,” said the North American Gaming Regulators Association (NAGRA) in a statement.

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State Specific Targets

As part of its nationwide efforts, Conscious Gaming will offer specific resources in New Jersey and Pennsylvania — two of just a handful of states with online and retail sports betting, poker and casino gaming.

Even with gaming’s proliferation in the two states, 25% of New Jersians and 30% of Pennsylvanians survived in a recent poll were unaware about legal gaming or thought it was illegal. Three of four respondents in both states were unsure or unable to differentiate legal and illegal gaming sites. Conversely, 42% of surveyed bettors in both states said safety and security were important.

Only legal, regulated sites guarantee secured deposits, ensured withdrawals and responsible gaming measures industry regulators said, reiterating the need for educated bettors.

“Educating Pennsylvanians about the security and safety advantages of legal online betting is critical,” said Kevin O’Toole, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Executive Director, in a statement. “Approved operators in Pennsylvania have been vetted and they meet high regulatory standards which permits consumers to wager on legal sites with the confidence that their funds and identity are secure and that regulated websites will be responsible and accountable.

“The Bettor Safe campaign is an important resource to empower consumers to identify and use these regulated sites in Pennsylvania.”

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