When you sign-up through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more >

Guide to Responsible Gambling in Marketing

Written by: Pat Eichner
Fact-checked by: Daniel Umfleet
12 min read

Guide to responsible gambling in marketing

Responsible gambling is all about staying healthy and maintaining an enjoyable and controlled relationship with gambling. There are lots of external factors that can affect your ability to gamble responsibly, from your financial situation to your alcohol use. 

One of these factors is the way that gambling is marketed and advertised. As legal online gambling spreads around the US, there has been a massive increase in exposure to gambling advertisements. These ads can cause harm, particularly to vulnerable individuals or people with existing gambling problems. 

As a result, various regulations have been implemented to promote responsible gambling practices in the advertising industry. Understanding the principles and why they are important is crucial in promoting safe and enjoyable gambling experiences. 

Who Is at Risk With Gambling Marketing?

Gambling marketing regulations exist to protect the general public. We’re going to get into how they work in detail below, but in this section, we’re covering the types of individuals who are most at risk from dangerous, misleading or over-the-top gambling advertisements:

  • Underage people - Legal sportsbooks and casinos are required to ensure that underage people don’t use their services, including by verifying the identity of every player that signs up. When it comes to marketing, it means not publishing advertisements that might be enticing to children, like using cartoon imagery. Children are more impressionable and impulsive than adults, and more easily swayed by flashy or misleading marketing.

  • Vulnerable people - Misleading or exaggerated advertisements can unduly impact all kinds of vulnerable people. People might see gambling as a way to solve their financial problems. They might see gambling platforms as a social or community outlet. They might simply think they are guaranteed to win or be predisposed to taking risks. Responsible advertising guards against all of that. 

  • Existing gambling addicts - Seeing advertisements for gambling can be very tough for anyone struggling with a gambling problem. Furthermore, as legal gambling becomes more widespread and mainstream in the US, it’s more likely to happen than ever. Protecting these people is a huge part of responsible gambling marketing. It encompasses things like identity verification, opt-in requirements and well-being checks of people who respond to adverts, and respecting self-exclusion and opt-out tools. 

How Gambling Regulations Work

The gambling industry is subject to complex regulations and guidelines designed to protect both players and operators. These regulations are enforced by governing bodies in specific jurisdictions, such as in each state in the US or the Canadian Provinces. This applies to all licensed and regulated sportsbooks and casinos, but less so for offshore sites. 

Advertising guidelines are just one of the gambling regulations that operators must follow. They ensure that operators do not engage in false advertising, promote irresponsible gambling practices, or target vulnerable individuals. Violating these regulations can result in significant financial penalties, losing your gambling license, and other legal repercussions.

In North America, both brick and mortar and online casinos and sportsbooks are regulated, but the regulations can vary significantly from one state or province to the next. Some regions have strict rules, while others have more relaxed regulations. 

For example, pretty much all regions require online gambling operators to include some kind of responsible gambling messages and warnings in their advertisements. Some jurisdictions may require that an independent regulatory body approve all advertising before it can be released to the public.


Expert Opinion - Adapting Regulations

Continuous monitoring and adaptation of regulations are vital to address the evolving landscape of gambling advertising. As digital platforms and marketing strategies evolve, regulators must remain vigilant to ensure alignment with responsible gambling standards. This entails staying abreast of emerging advertising channels, such as social media and influencer marketing, and evaluating their impact on vulnerable populations. Technological innovations like augmented reality and virtual reality also require scrutiny to prevent inadvertent exposure to gambling-related messaging. Regulatory cooperation is crucial to addressing cross-border advertising challenges effectively.

Additionally, incorporating insights from research and behavioral science can enhance consumer protection measures, informing the design of targeted interventions. A proactive approach to regulation ensures that advertising practices align with responsible gambling principles and mitigates potential harms associated with gambling advertising.

- Pat Eichner
Associate Partner at GMA Consulting

US responsible gambling advertising regulationsUS Responsible Gambling Advertising Regulations

Responsible gambling advertising regulations in the United States aim to protect vulnerable individuals from the negative effects of gambling and ensure that all advertising is truthful, fair, and not misleading. Each state has its own set of regulations, but several common themes exist across the country.

As one of the main regulations, all advertisements must include a warning message about the risks associated with gambling and the potential for addiction. The language in these messages must be clear and easy to understand, and the warnings must be prominently displayed in the advertisement. 

Secondly, advertisements must not target vulnerable groups, such as children or individuals with a history of problem gambling. This includes avoiding cartoon characters or other imagery within gambling advertisements that might appeal to children. 

Advertisements must also not make false or misleading claims about the odds of winning or the potential benefits of gambling. All claims must be backed up by evidence, and advertisements must not exaggerate the chances of winning. 

To find out more about the specific gambling regulations in your state, you should consult the local gambling commission or licensing authority. Head to our page on state-by-state resources for a list of responsible gambling bodies that can give you more information in your home state. 

Canadian Responsible Gambling Advertising Regulations 

Similar to the US, the gambling laws in Canada vary depending on the province. Although every province has at least some form of legal gambling, only Ontario has embraced full-scale legal online gambling featuring third-party operators. It’s a similar model to the top US sports betting markets, like New Jersey and Illinois.

According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, a range of advertising regulations are used to ensure that gambling is kept responsible while promoting the games. 

Here are some of the rules by the AGCO to ensure that you understand what is permitted when advertising gambling:

  • Avoid targeting underage or self-excluded individuals in lottery schemes.

  • Ensure advertising is not misleading.

  • Prohibit advertising of inducements, bonuses, and sports and event betting credits.

  • Allow advertising of gambling incentives with an opt-in process, allowing withdrawal of consent.

  • Provide information on gambling risks and support for potential issues.

  • Offer a voluntary self-exclusion program and remove participants from mailing lists and promotions during self-exclusion.

  • Ensure game designs are clear and not deceptive (except for sports and event betting).

  • Keep sports betting methods simple and provide clear information before bets.

  • Allow players to access information on available sports bets without placing a bet.

  • Use reputable data sources for bet outcomes, available upon player request.

  • Apply responsible gambling information to free-to-play games.

  • Allow only eligible individuals to play free-to-play games.

  • Prevent games from encouraging chasing losses, increasing bets, or continuing after expressing a desire to stop.

  • Exclude the lottery sector from certain standards.

  • Ensure games do not primarily appeal to underage individuals.

  • Prohibit extending credit for gambling.

Using these regulations, the AGCO in Canada Commission ensures that gambling is promoted responsibly while also protecting people from excessive gambling. In a more drastic step than the standard US regulations, advertisements that communicate gambling inducements, bonuses, and sports and event betting credits are prohibited. That means you’ll never see a splashy “Join Now for a $200 Welcome Bonus!” advert north of the border. 

In contrast, permitted advertisements must provide an opt-in process for receiving direct marketing and advertising of such incentives. When advertising to an audience, allowing them to withdraw consent at any time is important.

Additionally, gambling advertisements must provide information about the risks of gambling and where to obtain additional information or assistance. Finally, support must be provided to individuals who exhibit signs of problematic gambling behavior.


Expert Opinion - Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is crucial for gambling operators to prioritize consumer welfare alongside commercial interests. Implementing CSR initiatives, such as funding addiction treatment programs and public awareness campaigns, demonstrates a commitment to addressing the social impact of gambling. These efforts support individuals affected by problem gambling and educate the public about responsible gambling practices. Transparency and accountability in CSR efforts are essential for building trust with stakeholders, including consumers and regulators.

Collaboration with government agencies and community stakeholders enhances the effectiveness of CSR initiatives, promoting responsible gambling and mitigating the negative consequences of excessive gambling behavior. CSR is essential in creating a culture of responsible gambling and making a positive impact on the communities served by the gambling industry.

- Pat Eichner
Associate Partner at GMA Consulting

Gambling Marketing on Television

In North America, the rules regarding marketing and advertising gambling on television can vary depending on the jurisdiction. However, there are a few basic guidelines that apply across the board. 

One of the most important rules is that gambling advertisements cannot be targeted at minors. This means that any advertisements for gambling products or services must not be shown during programs that appeal primarily to children or young people and must not include imagery or language that may appeal to minors.

In addition, gambling advertisements on TV must be socially responsible. This means that they must not suggest that gambling is a solution to financial problems or that it can be a guaranteed source of income. They must also not portray gambling as improving social status or personal relationships.

Unlike targeted adverts on the internet, TV ads could be seen by pretty much any kind of person who happens to be watching at that time. This requires robust standardized best practices, to protect vulnerable casual viewers. 

Gambling marketing regulations on the internetGambling Marketing on the Internet

The Internet has revolutionized how we gamble, providing previously impossible access to online casinos, sportsbooks, and other gambling services, 24/7. It has also become a popular platform for gambling advertising, with marketers using various channels to promote their products and services to potential customers.

However, just like any other form of gambling advertising, gambling marketing on the Internet is subject to strict regulations to ensure that it is responsible and does not harm vulnerable individuals. In this section, we’re discussing online gambling marketing guidelines and best practices, including YouTube and social media platforms.


YouTube is the most popular platform for video-sharing in the world. Similar to television, YouTube also features video advertising, which may include betting and gaming. However, marketing on YouTube is subject to strict regulations to ensure that it is responsible and does not harm vulnerable individuals.

YouTube has its own advertising policies, which strictly prohibit ads that promote gambling or games of chance that offer cash or other prizes of value - except for certified users. You can also opt out of seeing gambling ads if you wish. Gambling ads are only allowed in countries where gambling is legal and regulated, and they must comply with the laws and industry standards of each country, city, or state.

In the United States, gambling ads on YouTube must include a responsible gambling message and a link to a website that provides information and resources for problem gambling. These ads must also target users at least 18 years old and cannot be shown during videos intended for children. 

Additionally, ads cannot be supported on videos tagged for children or featured on YouTube Kids.

Social Media

Gambling marketing on social media has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially with the spread of different types of online gambling. However, just like any other form of gambling advertising, it is subject to strict regulations to ensure that it is responsible and does not bring harm.

Typically, social media gambling ads must include information about responsible gambling, including information about how to get help for problem gambling. This information must be clearly visible and easily accessible in each marketing campaign across each platform - just like on TV.

Different social media platforms have their own advertising policies that gambling advertisers must comply with. For example, Facebook and Instagram prohibit ads that promote “real money gambling” unless they are pre-approved and targeted to users over the legal gambling age.

Another important consideration for social media gambling ads is the use of influencers and creators. Many gambling operators partner with influencers to promote their products or services on social media. However, ensuring these partnerships comply with advertising standards and not mislead consumers is essential. They are, after all, just another form of gambling marketing. 

Influencers must disclose their partnerships with gambling operators and include responsible gambling messages in their posts. Additionally, operators must ensure their partnerships with influencers do not breach advertising regulations or guidelines.

Unregulated Gambling Marketing

Legal and licensed gambling operators are subject to all the regulations we’ve covered so far. However, offshore and unregulated sites have no such oversight, which is yet another reason they should be avoided. 

Offshore sites exist in a kind of legal gray area. With no strict regulation about how they market themselves, they can pretty much say whatever they want to try to get people to sign up. 

The advertising around unregulated sportsbooks and casinos can be significantly more misleading than the legal sites. And that’s before we get into how they actually treat users when they do sign up. In extreme cases, offshore sites may intentionally target underage players or vulnerable people who have struggled with gambling in the past. 

Effective regulation at legal sites means that these people are protected, rather than targeted. 

Reference List

  1. https://www.nj.gov/oag/ge/docs/BestPractices/AdvertisingBestPractices.pdf

  2. https://www.agco.ca/responsible-gambling-1

  3. https://www.agco.ca/lottery-and-gaming/guides/2-responsible-gambling

  4. https://clearcode.cc/blog/gambling-advertising/ 

  5. https://support.google.com/adspolicy/answer/6018017?hl=en

  6. https://help.instagram.com/1695974997209192

  7. https://www.theiaga.org/influencers--celebrities-and-increasing-gambling-advertising-restrictions

Latest Responsible Gambling Articles

Image for Pat Eichner


Pat Eichner

7 Articles

Pat Eichner, a strategic communications expert and responsible gambling advocate, joined GMA Consulting in 2023 to launch the firm's Strategic Communications unit, leveraging his extensive iGaming experience from companies like PointsBet to notable PR roles with the NFL and renowned PR agencies like Dan Klores Communications. Pat's dedication to excellence and impactful strategies continues to shape the dynamic landscape of public relations and strategic communications across the iGaming industry.

Pat is one of the resident responsible gambling specialists at WSN. He co-authored our Responsible Gambling Center and provides expert insights into the harms of problem gambling and how to combat them.

More info on Pat Eichner
We've been featured on:
espn logo
reuters logo
cbs-news logo
forbes logo
entrepreneur logo
entrepreneur logo
We only list licensed sportsbooks

© Rebel Penguin ApS 2024 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)

We support responsible gambling. 21+ Only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.

WSN.com is run by iGaming Cloud Inc (a Gaming Innovation Group Subsidiary) and is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.

Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.