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NY Congressman Introduced Federal Sportsbook Ad Ban

Those ubiquitous ads for sportsbooks and offers of “free bets” could be a thing of the past if Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) has his way. If passed into law, the Congressman’s Betting on our Future Act would ban nearly all forms of sportsbook advertising, treating them the same way as tobacco and other dangerous products.

Under the terms of Tonko’s proposal, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would regulate all sportsbook advertising, the same way they regulate tobacco advertising. That means television, radio, and internet advertising would be strictly off-limits to operators.

Tonko’s legislation was triggered by a wave of sportsbook advertisements offering free bets and risk-free bets to an American public that doesn’t really understand what they’re getting into. The Congressman explained his concerns in an editorial in the Times-Union saying, “These gimmicks are simply the latest in a series of shifting tactics in an industry aggressively fighting to court and retain new customers. Whether they offer ‘risk free’ or ‘no sweat’ bets, or simply too-good-to-be-true promo offers, the sportsbook industry has been ruthless in pursuit of customers to get hooked on its product. Everyday Americans now can’t seem to escape the daily barrage of promotions enticing them into the world of gambling.”

It’s worth noting that Tonko’s bill would only apply to sportsbooks and not to any other form of gambling advertising, such as slot machines.

Though it’s too early to tell what kind of support Tonko has in Congress, the idea of regulating sportsbook advertising, particularly those “free bet” ads, is catching on with lawmakers. Both Ohio and Massachusetts have banned the terms “free bet” and “risk-free” for operators, and other states seem certain to follow.