New York Congressman Writing Bill To Curb Sports Betting Ads, Ban Use Of Artificial Intelligence

Written By David Danzis on May 20, 2024
Image of New York Rep. Paul Tonko, who is fine-tuning federal legislation to curb sports betting advertisements and marketing.

A New York congressman is fine-tuning soon-to-be-introduced federal legislation that aims to curb some of the more problematic elements associated with regulated sports gambling.

US Rep. Paul Tonko said the SAFE Bet Act will address several issues, including deceptive marketing tactics, artificial intelligence and fiscal safeguards, all of which are relevant to legal sports betting in New York.

According to reports, Tonko, an eight-term Democrat representing the state’s 20th District, intends to introduce the bill later this year.

“We put a framework out, now we are wordsmithing it,” Tonko said recently at an event in Saratoga Springs. “We are networking with folks to make certain we get (the SAFE Bet Act) exactly as we intended.”

Tonko again going after sports betting marketing tactics

Tonko is no stranger to tackling unwanted side effects of the rapidly expanding United States sports betting market. The NY lawmaker sponsored the Betting On Our Future Act, which was introduced last year to rein in some of the questionable marketing practices used by sportsbooks.

The SAFE Bet Act is comparable in that Tonko wants the federal government to prohibit gambling operators from using specific language in communications with prospective or existing customers.

Specifically, the SAFE Bet Act would ban “programming designed to induce gambling with ‘bonus,’ ‘no sweat,’ ‘bonus bets,’ or odds boosts.”

Tonko’s bill would also ban betting ads during live sporting events.

“We’re not looking to outlaw gambling,” he said.

“I think this unrestricted, Wild West environment is not helpful to anybody, and we think it’s necessary to have some restrictions so there are not these targeted audiences that are preyed upon (by advertising).”

Legislation could also impact sportsbook users

Tonko’s proposed legislation also restricts sports gamblers. The SAFE Bet Act prohibits sportsbooks from accepting more than five deposits to a single account in a 24-hour period.

According to Legal Sports Report, the bill will apply “affordability checks” on customers before they make large bets. Legal Sports Report noted that the bet size has yet to be determined.

As more states look to gambling expansion to generate additional revenue, Tonko said officials must consider the whole picture. Lawmakers in Albany are considering legalizing online casinos in NY and additional taxes are part of the pro-expansion argument.

“The revenues (for states) are important, but let’s make sure we know what the ripple effects are. I want to make certain there are no harmful outcomes, especially to our young and those on recovery lists who have been targeted, too.”

Proposal also addresses use of artificial intelligence

While Tonko has not finished drafting the SAFE Bet Act, he said it will include language that addresses how artificial intelligence is used in the marketplace.

Under his proposal, AI could not be used to track player habits or offer personalized promotions.

The bill will also likely prohibit sportsbooks from using AI to create gambling products, such as live bet pricing.

Photo by J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is a writer for PlayNY. A New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University, he served as a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, earning statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he contributes to New York's growing legal gambling landscape, including online sports betting and potential legalization of NY online casinos. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

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