Sports Gambling Company Under Fire for Insensitive 9/11 Promotion

Sports Gambling Company Under Fire for Insensitive 9/11 Promotion

Sports gambling giant DraftKings faced significant backlash on Monday after promoting a bet parlay that would have paid out if three New York teams emerged victorious on the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The insensitivity of the offer, which featured the phrase “Never Forget” commonly associated with the tragic event, sparked outrage among social media users and the public at large.

Acknowledging the gravity of their misstep, DraftKings quickly issued a public apology on X, formerly known as Twitter. The company expressed remorse for the featured parlay and recognized the importance of September 11th to the nation and especially to the families directly affected by the tragedy. Nevertheless, the apology fell short for many, who deemed it insincere and accused the company of exploiting a national tragedy for its promotional purposes.

Social media platforms were flooded with criticism directed towards DraftKings, with users voicing their outrage and disappointment. The company was called “clowns,” “shameful,” and accused of lacking respect for both the significance of the day and the customers who engage in sports betting on their platform. Bret Eagleson, whose father tragically lost his life in the World Trade Center attack, slammed DraftKings for using the national tragedy as a means of promoting their business. He stressed the need for accountability, justice, and closure, rather than self-interest and shameless promotion.

This is not the first time a major corporation has faced backlash for insensitivity towards the September 11th attacks. In a similar incident a decade ago, AT&T deleted a tweet featuring a hand holding a mobile phone capturing an image of the Tributes in Light, which symbolize the Twin Towers. The tweet was accompanied by the same phrase, “Never Forget.” AT&T issued an apology, acknowledging the poor taste of their post and emphasizing that the intention was to pay respect to the victims of the tragedy. The eerie coincidence of history repeating itself raises questions about the level of sensitivity and awareness within these companies.

The controversy surrounding DraftKings comes at a time when legal sports betting is expanding rapidly across the United States. Since a pivotal Supreme Court ruling in 2018, over 30 states and the District of Columbia have launched legal betting markets. The market is projected to exceed $7.6 billion by 2023, according to Statista Market Insights. As the industry continues to grow, it is imperative for companies like DraftKings to exercise caution and thoughtful consideration when creating promotional campaigns.

While DraftKings’ apology demonstrates a recognition of their error, the damage caused by their insensitive promotion on the anniversary of September 11th cannot be easily undone. The incident serves as a reminder for companies to prioritize empathy and respect when conducting their business, particularly when dealing with somber and sensitive occasions. It is crucial for corporations to learn from these mistakes and to use them as opportunities for growth and increased awareness, as they continue to navigate the complex landscape of the sports gambling industry.

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