ESPN donates $200,000 to UNLV for responsible gambling research

The day before PENN Entertainment’s ESPN-branded mobile sportsbook, ESPN BET, was set to launch in 17 states, UNLV announced that ESPN had donated $200,000 to the school’s International Gaming Institute for research related to responsible sports betting.

The funds will be used to kickstart the development of a pioneering program dedicated to the study of, education on, and advisory services related to sports betting and its intersection with the media. Brett Abarbanel, the IGI’s executive director, expressed excitement about ESPN’s support for research, education, and innovation in the responsible representation of sports betting in the media.

Described as a collaborative effort, the joint venture between ESPN and the IGI will focus on areas such as enhancing responsible gambling, developing evidence-based insights, responsible marketing practices, creating responsible gambling program parameters, and educating industry leaders. A comprehensive review of current regulatory practices will be conducted, and best practices to increase engagement in responsible gambling for both employees and customers will be recommended.

Furthermore, researchers will provide evidence-based insights on the development of policies, messaging, and technology components. A structured review process will be established to assess marketing and promotional materials to ensure responsible marketing practices. Additionally, the program will advise on the creation of named, marketable, and easily identifiable responsible gambling programs, and educate executive leadership in the media sector on best practices in sports betting.

Abarbanel explained that the partnership with ESPN is focused on looking at the best practices for how gambling is presented in media and sports media, including responsible gambling and discussion of gambling within the broadcast content.

She highlighted ESPN’s uniqueness due to its affiliation with other entities, such as Disney, and stated that they are striving to include various disciplines in their research, ranging from journalism to addiction research to sports law and mathematics. This diversity of expertise will ensure a well-rounded approach to their research.

Abarbanel emphasized the opportunity to tap into ESPN’s expertise to conduct better research and ensure their work is grounded in reality. This collaboration aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of responsible sports betting and its portrayal in media.