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NBA Cracks Down on ‘Risk-Free’ Bets

The days of US players making “risk-free” bets on NBA games and props are coming to a close. Last week, the professional basketball league became the latest US entity to ban operators from using the phrase “risk-free” in their official promotions, and they’re not likely to be the last.

The problem with “risk-free” and “free” bets is that they’re never really free, and they always involve some risk. That’s because almost every operator in the world requires actual, up-front cash and a certain amount of risk. Players who lose their “free” bets are paid back in the form of a credit, which frequently must be used within a couple days of the original wager.

Operators such as BetMGM, DraftKings and Caesars have attempted to address this issue by replacing “free” and “risk-free” with terms like “sweat-free” and “bonus bets”. Leagues like the NBA have embraced that same mentality, requiring their official betting partners to strike the term from their promotions.

Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA senior vice president addressed the issue in a recent interview with Sports Business Journal saying, “We believe it’s a problematic term from a responsible gaming and a problem gaming standpoint. It’s important that we be clear with our fans that sports betting carries inherent risk. The notion that anything in this area is risk-free runs counter to the key messaging and education around sports betting. We just feel it’s the right move for us.”

Most operators are willingly going along with the effort and, according to Casey Clark, senior vice president at the American Gaming Association, see it as just part of doing business. “We always knew all of this would have to evolve. Once we got into operation at scale, we would have to look at what was working and what wasn’t and how to ensure we’re creating a viable and sustainable market. This is a product of that evolution,” he recently told Sports Business Journal.

So expect risk-free betting to become a thing of the past in the United States, in very short order.