NFL to limit sports betting ads during Super Bowl

Sports Betting

Advertisements for sports betting continue to flood the airwaves, but the NFL said Tuesday that viewers will see only three such ads during the Super Bowl broadcast next month.

David Highhill, the NFL’s general manager for sports betting, told reporters there will be one sports betting ad right before kickoff and two others during the game.

The league has set limits on in-game sports betting advertising. But sportsbooks have only bought three such ads for broadcast right before and during the Super Bowl broadcast, fewer than the maximum allowed, NFL spokesperson Alex Riethmiller said.

“We’ve put some policies in place to limit the amount of advertising for sports betting that happens in our live games,” Highhill said. “It’s roughly one ad per quarter. All told, less than 5%  of all in-game ads are sports betting ads.”

League officials and the leader of a problem gambling treatment group spoke during an online forum about the NFL’s first Super Bowl in Las Vegas, the nation’s gambling capital. The Kansas City Chiefs will try to defend their title against the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 11.

The league was one of many professional sports leagues that fought the legalization of sports betting, largely on grounds that it could undermine fans’ perception of the integrity of the games. Now that sports betting has been legal for six years, it is the league’s top priority to maintain that public confidence, said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy.

Part of that effort includes “being mindful of the tenor, volume and saturation of sports betting advertising and the degree with which we’re integrating that into the live game,” Highhill said.

He said the league has been surveying fans since 2019 on their attitudes toward and participation in legal sports betting. While he did not provide statistics, he said the NFL has seen an increase in those who say they like and participate in sports betting, and a decrease in those who don’t.

The topic of sports betting advertising has been contentious for years. Almost as soon as New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2018 clearing the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting (38 currently do, along with Washington, D.C.), sportsbooks flooded the airwaves, print and digital outlets with ads for sports betting.