The NFL aired its first public service announcement on sports betting during the Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints game Thursday night.
The straightforward 30-second PSA featured retired coach Steve Mariucci emphasizing the NFL's core message on responsible gambling: "Stick to your game plan. Always bet responsibly."
"Getting the tone where you'll get people's attention, so it's not just lost in the flow of TV ads, but also having a clear, supportive tone was important," Chris Halpin, NFL chief strategy and growth officer, who is overseeing the league's approach to sports betting, told ESPN.
Halpin said, to start, the PSA will air once during game broadcasts, but the frequency could vary, and new versions will be introduced ahead of the playoffs. It has not been determined whether a responsible gambling PSA will air during the Super Bowl.
The in-game PSAs are part of the NFL's overarching initiative to build a safer sports betting ecosystem in the U.S. In October, the league announced a $6.2 million, three-year partnership with the National Council on Problem Gambling. It's the largest grant ever for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that was founded in 1972. The partnership includes operation of ResponsiblePlay.org, a website the NFL encourages bettors to visit to learn about responsible betting and problem gambling.
This is the first NFL season in which commercials for sportsbooks have aired during games. The NFL put a cap of six sports betting ads per game, and Halpin said the response from fans to the commercials so far has been "neutral."