Risk-free bets are a marketing cornerstone of the contemporary sports betting industry. In the United States, where the regulated sports betting sector is still in its infancy, operators use so-called “risk-free” bets as a promotion that’s usually written off on the company’s tax bill.
The pervasive nature of risk-free promotions make Penn Entertainment’s recent decision to ditch this very cost-effective marketing tool all the more notable.
Samantha Haggerty, Penn Entertainment’s Deputy Chief Compliance Officer and Regulatory Affairs Counsel, made the announcement about the end of risk-free bet promotions at a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). “To further illustrate Penn and PI’s commitment to responsible gaming practices, Penn will not use the term ‘risk-free’ in any retail or online sports wagering marketing materials targeting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In fact, to demonstrate our commitment to responsible advertising and gaming, and after hearing the concerns of the MGC and those of other jurisdictions where we operate, the term ‘risk-free’ has been removed from all Penn gambling marketing materials,” she said, according to reporting by SBC Americas.
Whether Penn Entertainment is acting merely in the best interests of their customers, or is merely staying ahead of regulations they see coming down the pike, remains to be seen. The American sports betting market, and the entire US online gambling business, is so young that many of the kinks in the system are still being worked out. It seems likely that Penn is betting that risk-free bets would be regulated out of existence one way or the other.