Gambling Revenue Policy for Sites

Nov 22, 2021

Any American sports fan is well aware that sports betting is now legal for a considerable portion of the United States. The amount of money going into advertising this fact on television, radio and websites is substantial. Many members of our team, including myself, are recreational bettors and enjoy finding a potential edge or constructing a parlay. As a sports website, Sports Reference has been approached by multiple sportsbooks and gambling affiliate groups to join in affiliate agreements or run advertising campaigns on their behalf.

Gambling advertising takes largely two forms.

Banner Advertising - These are the banner ads you see on our websites or newsletters. This advertising is bought on the per impression basis. The ads you see on a website are largely determined via an auction process between dozens of parties based on multiple estimates of the value of showing you an ad. Occasionally, brands or companies will buy a set amount of inventory on a website well suited to their desired audience, but most of the advertising on Sports Reference and internet-wide is based on an auction process where the highest bidder wins the right to show an ad to a particular user. We often do not have insight into the particular advertisers buying ads on our website, but can ask for particular product categories to be blocked.

Affiliate Relationships - Betting advertising (and high ticket items like mortgages, credit cards, etc) often takes the form of an affiliate relationship between the sportsbook (eg BetMGM) and the publisher (eg ESPN). In a relationship like this, there may be banner advertising involved, but most of the time the publisher is paid either:

  • a flat rate, often in the $100s, for each customer they can get to deposit with the sportsbook, or
  • a percentage of the losses for each customer they can get to deposit with the sportsbook.

At Sports Reference, we have decided to make it our policy to not undertake any affiliate relationships with sportsbooks or gambling-affiliated companies. For the time being, we will still allow betting banner advertising, but will continue to review this decision over time. Ultimately, we have decided we didn't want to win when our users lose, and that affiliate relationships aligned us more with the sportsbooks than with our users. We felt this worked counter to our company value of respect and our goal to be your trusted source for sports information.

We will continue to present gambling-related content like current or historical lines, over/unders, or prop bets, but we will not attach this data to offers from affiliate partners. Our betting content may eventually include new tools, like Stathead tools, relating to sports betting. Our goal would be to empower users with this additional content.

We welcome any feedback on this decision.

Sean Forman
Sports Reference LLC