NFL Tackles Compulsive Gambling with a $6.2 Million Campaign

Written By Marian Rosin on December 20, 2021
The National Football League is putting its name and money behind safe and responsible sports gaming

The NFL is putting its money on responsible gambling with its new $6.2 million campaign focused on sports betting education.

There are no legal casinos currently in Georgia, but some hope to see a change in 2022, including lawmakers, Atlanta-based pro sports teams, casino lobbyists, and some gaming companies. These hopes, and some actions; have been spurred on by witnessing sizable economic and social benefits in states that have legalized gambling, both retail and online sports betting. 

Georgia voters, too, would ultimately have a say, as current law requires a referendum.

The timing couldn’t be better

A cautionary note about sports betting comes from Christopher Halpin, the National Football League executive vice president, chief strategy and growth officer. Halpin pointed out that problem gambling may also increase as sports betting increases.

And so the NFL’s extensive public awareness campaign, launched in October and coinciding with expanded legal sports betting nationwide, comes during a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to teach bettors responsible wagering. 

The league’s 3-year campaign will include broadcast, print, and social media outreach as well as in-game and in-stadium messaging. The messaging centers on bet budgeting and limit-setting, betting with licensed and regulated operators, understanding the workings of sports betting, and accessing help if needed. The slogan is “Stick to Your Game Plan. Always Bet Responsibly.”

Halpin would like the sports and betting industries to ensure that each state’s education and support programs match gambling growth. Indeed, that may happen, thanks to the NFL’s multiyear, multimillion-dollar partnership with the D.C.-based National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). As the NFL says, the goal is to “help develop a sustainable and safer sports betting ecosystem.” A website,, is already operating.

The league’s Official Sports Betting Partners (Caesars Entertainment, FanDuel, and DraftKings) have developed responsible betting programs of their own. And, they’re sharing this info with and supporting the NFL’s efforts.

Sometimes a Game Isn’t a Game

Sports betting is currently available in 28 states.

The American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s national trade group, reports a 36% increase in American sports betting since last year. 

The NCPG estimates 2 million problem gamblers in the U.S.

Keith Whyte, NCPG executive director, has seen a need for compulsive gambling treatment and prevention take shape since the 2018 Supreme Court case that opened the doors nationally to legalized sports wagering.

“We think the risk has doubled since then,” Whyte commented.

The Campaign: “Awareness, Education, Support”

Whyte called the NFL an “example for other professional sports leagues,” an “industry leader” in increasing awareness, and the football league’s initiative “far-reaching.”  

With almost budget-doubling funding provided by the NFL, the NCPG can upgrade its nationwide helpline and run a national grant program. This program, in turn, will fund services offered by providers at the local and state levels, such as creating or enhancing treatment programs. “Agility Grants” may be provided to nonprofits, community organizations, and state affiliates of the NCPG. These grants are to help create and implement innovative problem-gambling programs in particular. Additionally, youth outreach, certification training, a PSA, and technology to upgrade the current 24/7 call center at 1-800-522-4700 are projects the grants target.  

“We will be able to help so many more people because of this,” Whyte noted. 

A league of their own: NFL Official Sports Betting Partners

Caesars Entertainment’s “Operation Bet Smart” and “Project 21” programs in the 1980s made it the first U.S. casino to promote responsible gaming. The company also launched the nation’s first toll-free gambling helpline in 1995. For more information about their current responsible gambling programs, visit

DraftKings policies encourage limit setting, cooling-off periods, and self-exclusion. ( 

FanDuel offers players the chance to self-exclude with a free subscription to Gamban, currently the most extensive gambling block software. (

Keeping it fun with responsible betting

For now, Georgians have only two gambling options: the state lottery and a few hours on select days aboard the Emerald Princess Casino. Meanwhile, eyes are on 2022 for a change, or maybe a beginning.

Regarding the coming of sports betting, NFL V.P. Halpin has some thoughts. He stresses the importance of lessons from more mature international betting markets. Specifically, Halpin points to following their example of avoiding advertising oversaturation. “Sports betting is supposed to be fun,” he’s said.

Photo by Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
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