On February 9, 2023, Rep. Paul Tonko proposed a federal bill in the House regarding sports betting. The legislation that he put forward is the “Betting on our Future Act”, which proposes banning any type of sports betting advertising on radio, television, or the Internet.
In his introduction, the Congressman mentioned that federal action is needed to prevent and stop sports betting operators and sites from aggressively promoting their services.
He added that they immensely contribute to the rise of problem gambling and emphasized “risk-free” and “no-sweat” bets. These types of promotions will get new and experienced gamblers into using all of their services even more.
While those operators won’t bat an eye or do more to prevent and stop problem gambling in the country, it is time for the federal government to step in.
The bill that Congressman Tonko is proposing, if given the green light, would fall under the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). While US Casinos and Sportsbooks can be placed on the same ship, Rep. Tonko puts more emphasis on sports betting.
Betting on Our Future Act Fact Sheet
In the fact sheet that came with the proposed bill, Rep. Paul Tonko provided information on why this bill is proposed. He mainly turned to the dangers of sports betting advertising and what sports betting has caused in the past few years.
Since the Supreme Court took down the ban on sports betting in 2018, more than 36 states have made sports betting available, and 26 have legalized mobile gambling.
After the number of available sports betting sites increased, today, about 1 in 5 Americans have placed bets online.
While implementing the National Problem Gambling Helpline has been helpful, in 2021, the number of filed calls has sadly been increasing, rounding at 270,000 filled calls more than in previous years.
The threat is that everyone has the ability to get on and register at an online betting site within minutes. Plus, operators and companies are using “predatory” tactics, including promotions with “risk-free” or “no-sweat” bets, which do lure in new players.
The entire bill has a model similar to the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 and asks for a ban on any type of advertising on TV, radio, or the Internet.
The Demographic at Most Risk
Research by the International Center for Youth Gambling Problems & High-Risk Behaviors has found that 60-80% of high school students have gambled for money.
This is not surprising at all, seeing that operators and companies across America are getting partnerships with universities and colleges. An example of this is the likes of Caesars Entertainment’s relationships with Michigan State University and Louisiana State University, which does end up giving the industry new players.
Back in 2018, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch proposed the “Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act”.
In the bill, the two senators proposed the prohibition of sports betting; however, states could submit applications to the Department of Justice and request approval of their sports betting programs.
They also suggested that a Wagering Trust fund be established and grant authority to the Department of Health and Human Services, which will establish programs to prevent and treat gambling addiction. While some saw something positive about this bill, in the end, it wasn’t passed.
Statement From the American Gambling Association
Upon proposing the new bill, the American Gambling Association released a statement commenting on the facts and information given by Rep. Tonko.
Senior Vice President Chris Cylke has said that AGA and all of its members are against any legislation that wants to ban any kind of legal sports betting or casino gambling advertisements.
Ultimately, this will reduce the awareness of the legal options players have and resort them to finding illegal ways to place bets and wager money or have them go on off-shore sites where responsible gambling isn’t promoted.
Cylke even added that there has never been more attention and funding invested into responsible gambling.
Plus, with such a bill being passed, it will interfere with the Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, which requires every operator to include responsible gaming messages and restrict targeting audiences, outlets, and content.
While the AGA respects Tonko’s interest in battling problem gambling, they insist that Congress should focus more on the off-shore illegal markets luring in US players into iGaming sites with no responsible gambling measures or resources and age verifications.