Companion bills in the New York Assembly and Senate have once again emerged, addressing what lawmakers call “predatory sportsbook bonuses.”
Assemb. Nader Sayegh and Sen. Peter Harckham introduced matching legislation within their respective chambers recently, as they look to direct the New York State Gaming Commission to crack down on NY sportsbook promos.
Specifically, the two legislators cited terms such as “deposit matching” and “risk-free betting,” as well as “free money,” “free bets,” “site credits” and “profit boosts.”
As Harckham wrote in his justification for the Senate bill:
“Industry officials have cited their voluntary support for anti-addiction resources as proof that they can be trusted to operate without stricter government rules, but more safeguards must be put in place as this reporting has illustrated these predatory practices are triggering a spike in gambling addiction.”
Bills: No more ‘free’ or ‘risk-free’ terms in promotions
These efforts are nothing new to the New York sports betting industry. Harckham filed similar legislation in both 2022 and 2023, each to no avail.
The spark for action – in both A8843 and S5395 – stemmed from reporting by the New York Times, which analyzed the impacts of online sports betting throughout the country as well as the common tactics adopted by operators to “lure in new customers,” as the justification reads.
As Harckham details, NY sportsbook marketing strategies such as “free bets” or the like can draw in new bettors, “targeted advertising that is personally tailored to lure in new customers from right within their homes.”
“This means that following legal sports betting in New York State, multitudes of people who were not formerly presented with these predatory practices will fall susceptible to gambling addiction that could have otherwise been avoided.”
Currently, per NYSGC regulations, sportsbooks in New York must submit promotions to the commission 15 days prior to posting for approval.
Addressing language of promotions already in effect
If you recall, the NYSGC in 2023 began tightening restrictions on advertising and marketing by sportsbooks in NY. Among the issues addressed was how “promotional language” is perpetuated by operators.
Within the package of rules enacted, state regulators voted to prohibit “false, deceptive or misleading statements” within marketing. That included using terms such as “risk-free” when describing promotions.
In addition, the NYSGC began instructing NY sports betting operators to “clearly and conspicuously disclose material facts, terms and conditions to potential customers.” Translation: No more major details of a promotion buried in the fine print of the terms and conditions.
Now, sports betting rules dictate that promotions cannot use terms like “free” in any promotion “if the patron needs to incur any loss or risk the patron’s own money to use or withdraw winnings from the wager.”
All of this is to say that the state appears to have already gotten the ball rolling on these “predatory bonuses.”