New York Congressman Aiming to Ban Online Sports Betting Ads

  • The basis of the bill is a federal law that introduced a ban on cigarette ads
  • Congressman Tonko has concerns about the negative impact of gambling ads
  • It appears that underage gambling and overall addiction levels are on the rise in the US
  • Many operators showcase celebrities in their ads and some have relationships with colleges
Ad blocker screen on a laptop
Congressman Paul Tonko has introduced a bill that would ban online sports betting ads across the US. [Image:]

A controversial bill

A congressman from New York is determined to ban sports betting ads across the country. Representative Paul Tonko introduced a new bill on Thursday titled “Betting on Our Future Act” that aims to ban all forms of electronic and online sports betting advertising. He believes that sports betting-related ads can lure people, particularly young people, into developing an addiction.

only allow operators to advertise through more traditional methods

Tonko labeled the current advertising practices of online sportsbooks as “excessive” and “uncensored.” The basis of the bill is a federal law that banned cigarette ads. If the bill becomes law, it would only allow operators to advertise through more traditional methods like mail, billboards, and print media, which would have huge consequences for the entire industry.

Concerns over the impact of ads

Congressman Tonko has serious concerns about the impact sports betting ads have on young and vulnerable people. An information sheet about the bill cited a study from the International Center for Youth Gambling Programs & High-Risk Behaviors that stated 60%-80% of high school students have said they’ve gambled for real money.

According to a forecast last August by BIA Advisory Services, online gambling companies were on track to spend about $1.8bn in 2022 on local advertising in the US.

Calls to the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network are also on the rise, with the network receiving a total of 270,000 calls in 2021, a 45% year-on-year increase. According to estimates, about seven million people in the US have some form of gambling addiction.

Operators treading a fine line

Some sportsbook operators have gotten in hot water for their advertising practices. The Ohio Casino Control Commission has issued a number of fines since launching its legal sports betting sector in January. Penn Sports Interactive, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook were all found to have violated state regulations.

concern about sportsbook operators targeting young people

Regulators generally have particular concern about sportsbook operators targeting young people, specifically those in college. Some sportsbooks have marketing deals in place with colleges like Michigan State University and the University of Colorado.

A lot of sports betting ads feature former athletes or high-profile celebrities, which can appeal to a young audience, in particular. Many countries with more established sports betting sectors have significantly curtailed the showcasing of celebrities or athletes in sports betting ads. The NBA also recently said that it will be banning its partner sports betting operators from using the term “risk-free” in any ads across team or league-controlled platforms.

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