New Federal Bill Would Significantly Curtail US Online Gambling Operators

  • New York Congressman Paul Tonko plans to introduce the SAFE Bet Act
  • It proposes a credit card ban, affordability checks, and ad restrictions
  • Tonko introduced a bill last year that focused mainly on gambling ads
Cutting credit card
Congressman Paul Tonko plans to introduce a new bill that would significantly curtail the US online gambling sector. [Image:]

Time for change

A new federal bill would significantly curtail the operations of online gambling operators in the US if it gains approval. New York Congressman Paul Tonko spoke on Tuesday about his plan to introduce the SAFE (Supporting Affordability and Fairness With Every) Bet Act in an attempt to reign in what he called “a Wild West, largely unregulated environment.”

believes that gambling addiction is a major public health crisis

Tonko believes that gambling addiction is a major public health crisis that is constantly growing and contends that the tactics that sportsbooks use are often “predatory” as they try to hook a new generation of customers.

He believes that a national approach to the subject would “create a safer, less addictive product while still preserving the freedom to bet for those who wish to do so.” Tonko doesn’t plan to stop until changes are made and intends to get bipartisan feedback to fine tune the bill’s language in the coming months.

Many suggestions

The SAFE Bet Act would implement a wide range of restrictions, including stopping sports betting-related ads during live sporting events, introducing affordability checks, and banning language like “no sweat” or “bonus” from marketing materials.

It calls for a ban on gamblers making deposits with credit cards and stops sportsbooks from accepting more than five deposits from a single account over a 24-hour period. The legislation even goes as far as prohibiting operators from leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to track the gambling habits of users and using AI in the creation of specific micro-betting prop markets.

Some of these proposed changes are already in place in other countries. The UK no longer allows credit card deposits and has a whistle-to-whistle ban on ads during live sports broadcasts before 9pm.

Other proposals include a countrywide collection of betting data and a national entity that would allow people to exclude themselves from receiving communication from gambling companies.

Other similar federal bills

This is not the first gambling-related bill that Tonko has drafted. His “Betting on Our Future Act” from February 2023 mostly focused on sportsbook advertising, calling for a blanket ban on online ads. It drew inspiration from the “Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act” which helped end tobacco advertising. Tonko’s previous bill did not make much progress during the 2023 legislative session.

An estimated 7 million Americans are currently suffering from gambling addiction.

Senator Richard Blumenthal has also proposed gambling-related legislation and backs Tonko’s plan. His GRIT Act would direct half of the 0.25% federal tax on every sports bet toward the research and treatment of gambling addiction. No federal funds are currently dedicated to these types of programs.

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