The NFL and the children’s network, Nickelodeon, launched a website that exposes children to sports betting-like aspects and an NFL Wild Card game on January 10 at 4:00 pm.
The website is apart of Nickelodeon’s first-ever, “kid-friendly” televised broadcast of an NFL game. The design of the broadcast includes kid-friendly elements such as:
- End zones with special graphics that spray virtual green slime on players who score touchdowns.
- Googly eyes or other Snapchat filter effects superimposed onto the faces of players who celebrate or mug for the camera.
- Special graphics and visual effects during plays.
- SpongeBob’s face virtually inserted between the goalposts during field goals.
- A green slime trail behind the football.
The event heavily includes Sponge-Bob Squarepants, Nickelodeon’s long-running cartoon series.
The website including sports betting-like elements regards the “Pick’em contest” portion of the event. The elements featured are free-to-play games and risk-free gambling. The users of the site will pick who will win the game, which compares to the public pick. The user can “smash their picks in order to receive points which can be exchanged for prizes and rewards.”
Data tracking suggests the site’s target audience is six to 14 years old.
Issues for Nickelodeon and The NFL
The decision to add sports betting elements has gained some attention, and worry, despite the site being free-to-play.
“Obviously someone is well-versed in sports betting to have the offerings the way that they are. I think just because there’s no money being exchanged that it negates harm,” said Brianne Doura-Schawohl, VP of US policy and strategic development at EPIC Risk Management.
Doura-Schawohl added that gambling disorders developed in people with early exposure to gambling than those exposed to it later on in life.
Another critic of the event’s sports-betting elements is a former gambler, Jamie Salsburg, who founded AfterGambling.com. He believes that children who become good at the website will become more addicted to similar types of games, such as betting on games
“You start to connect those dots at an early age saying “I’m good at this.” That’s a story you hear from a lot of gamblers repeat,” Salsburg added.
The NFL VP of communications of the NFL said they “have and continues to work with CBS/Viacom (owners of Nickelodeon) on elements in and around this game; there is nothing gambling-related or intended.”
The wild card game takes place, January 10 at 4:30 pm Eastern Time.
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