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ESPN, UNLV Award First Responsible Gambling Fellowships



One day before ESPN BET went live in 17 states in November, UNLV announced that ESPN had donated $200,000 to the school’s International Gaming Institute (IGI) for research related to responsible sports betting.

On Tuesday, UNLV and ESPN revealed whom their first fellowships had been awarded to — and for which fields of study.

According to a press release, each of the fellows will deliver research on “unique facets of responsible gambling messaging in sports media” as the intersection between sports and gambling continues to evolve.

As IGI Executive Director Brett Abarbanel told Sports Handle at the time the fellowships were announced, the research will mainly be about “making sure we are looking at, as an academic institute, what are some of the best practices for how gambling is presented in media and sports media, [which] includes responsible gambling — everything from advertising presence to discussion of gambling within the actual broadcast content.”

Results to be unveiled in 2025

The four — five, technically, since one project includes a two-man team — inaugural fellows are:

  • Dr. Hannah Borenstein, a Harper-Schmidt Postdoctoral Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Chicago, will explore track and field and marathon running. Her investigation will focus on the implications of integrating gambling into mainstream broadcasting and viewing of these sports.
  • Chance Dow, a Master’s student at the University of Memphis’ Tennessee Institute of Gambling Education and Research, will investigate the nuances of responsible gambling and gendered gambling. His study will examine how to enhance the effectiveness of responsible gambling messages, especially among college students.
  • Dr. Eric R. Louderback, a Research and Evaluation Scientist in the Division on Addiction at Harvard Medical School, will analyze video-based sports gambling advertisements on social media. His research will look at how responsible gambling messages influence advertisement effectiveness and will demonstrate the use of publicly available social media data in advancing knowledge of responsible gambling.
  • Dr. Brian Petrotta, Assistant Professor of Sport Media and Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Dr. Travis Bell, Associate Professor of Digital and Sports Media at the University of South Florida. They will analyze actual gambling broadcasts during March Madness, exploring how responsible gambling messages are conveyed and providing insights into practices during live sports broadcasts.

“ESPN is proud to work with IGI to advance responsible gaming standards through this comprehensive research,” Kevin Martinez, ESPN’s vice president of corporate citizenship, said in a press release. “These diverse research projects will help to inform how the industry can continue to respond to and improve upon responsible gaming practices in the sports entertainment ecosystem.”

Each fellowship will last for six months, and the results of the research will be featured in an IGI webinar in early 2025.

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