NY Senator Asks Regulator to Clamp Down on “Predatory Sportsbook Bonuses”

Chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Pete Harckham has worked on a bill asking the State Gaming Commission to clamp down on “predatory sportsbook bonuses.” The newly introduced Senate Bill 9605 requires the state regulator to promulgate a series of “rules and regulations” in connection to “predatory sportsbook bonuses in mobile sports betting.” The list includes rules regarding deposits, free bets, free money, profit-boosting, matching, and site credits offered by licensed online sports betting operators. The senator’s bill has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee for further discussions.

Missing Clarifications

The new bill does not offer any clear instructions or suggestions regarding the actions that the state regulator should take against so-called predatory sportsbook bonuses. In other words, there is no clear guidance in regard to whether these bonuses and promos should be subject to tighter rules or whether they should be completely banned.

The bill comes as a result of a number of recently published articles in the New York Times that discussed the sports betting industry. The articles introduced the topic of industry marketing and lobbying methods. A number of trade groups and individuals part of the industry expressed their criticism regarding the information presented in the said articles.

Targeted Advertising Luring in New Customers from Their Homes

Senator Harckham used a few of the findings in the articles, citing them in his bill. Among them, we can mention the practices used by operators of online sports betting platforms to draw in new customers and the methods used to retain them. The senator referenced “targeted advertising” in his justification statement for the bill. This type of advertising, explained Harckham, is tailored to specifically “lure in new customers” from the comfort of their own homes. The senator added that, in the context of the legalization of sports betting in the state, a large number of people “who were not formerly presented with these predatory practices” are likely to become “susceptible to gambling addiction.” The senator believes this problem could be prevented if these predatory bonuses would be tackled better.

Harckham used the example of other markets where sports betting is legal to pinpoint the need for better regulations. He mentioned Great Britain where advertisements for free bets have already been restricted, and Canada, where Ontario officials are allowed to fine operators failing to abide by standards prohibiting them from advertising bonuses using general types of ads.

Provided the new bill would pass, it would take effect after governor Kathy Hochul would sign it into law. In September, the mobile sports betting handle in New York reached the $1.3 billion mark, signaling an important growth compared to the months of August and July. Meanwhile, state senator Joe Addabbo reaffirmed his support for legalizing online casinos and poker in New York soon after winning the general election on November 8.