As gaming regulators across the country continue the push to educate bettors on the effects of problem gambling, a new bill has been introduced in New York that would impact the advertising gaming operators can put out.
Last week, S 1550 emerged in the Senate. Its goal: Force all NY sports betting and gambling advertisements in the Empire State to include information regarding the potential harms from betting along with a hotline number. Sen. Leroy Comrie and Sen. Luis R. Sepulveda introduced the bill, which then went on to the Senate Committee for Racing, Gaming, and Wagering.
The bill summary states:
“Requires all advertisements for gambling and sports betting to include warnings about potential harmful and addictive effects of gambling; requires the state gaming commission to cooperate with the commissioner of addiction services and supports to ensure that all advertisements for gaming activity state a problem gambling hotline number.”
The bill has yet to be voted on. But if passed, it would go into effect 60 days later.
Details of NY gambling advertising bill proposal
As outlined in the justification for S 1550, New Yorkers have ample access to legal gambling in the Empire State. Not only with retail casinos but also via online sportsbooks in New York as well as the New York Lottery, among others.
“The advent of the internet has made gambling more accessible through online betting platform,” the proposal notes. “As gambling becomes more easily accessed by more people, the number of lives negatively affected by gambling has also increased. This can lead to serious consequences for both the gambler and their family.”
While the steep 51% tax rate on sports betting in New York disincentivizes operators from marketing more, advertising still abounds. Yet, as the proposal indicates, New York spends just $1 million each year on public service announcements regarding problem gambling.
“In the unprecedented growth of gambling, where it is easy to place bets with PayPal, credit cards, bitcoin, or money-transfer apps; it is also important as a state to be proactive identifying and preventing potential problems of gambling. If signed into law, this bill would require industries to include warnings about potential harmful and addictive effects of gambling.”
This bill would require gambling entities to “clearly and conspicuously” include a problem gambling hotline number within its marketing.
Bill comes on heels of Ohio’s rocky start by operators
Sports betting just launched in Ohio on Jan.1, 2023. Yet the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) has already handed out multiple fines to operators for breaking state marketing rules. In total, Ohio doled out $950,000 in fines.
According to the OCCC, operators earned punishment for insufficient messaging on responsible gaming in advertisements. The state requires a call to action to wager responsibly plus a phone number for those in need of help.
The OCCC also flagged gaming operators for using terms like “risk-free” to promote sign-up offers. Using the term “free” is prohibited in promotions that require bettors to use their own funds to activate an offer, per the OCCC.
Recent culprits include DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars. This isn’t the first time DraftKings has been fined, as the sportsbook was also in hot water for marketing to underage bettors ahead of the Jan. 1 sports betting launch in the Buckeye State.
Importance of responsible gambling in New York
Even before legal gambling expanded in New York, responsible gambling remained the focus of many lawmakers. And as legislators potentially expand further, that hasn’t changed.
Last year, Sen. Joe Addabbo, a key proponent for the legalization of NY sports betting as well as online casinos in New York, pointed out that gambling addiction stands as “probably our biggest challenge” in getting NY online casino legalization across the finish line.
For their part, a number of gambling entities have taken the extra step. The NYSGC as well as the New York Council on Problem Gambling and OASAS visited gaming facilities throughout the state to promote responsible gambling. Those locations began posting signage with Quick Response (QR) codes that allows problem gamblers — or friends and family members of someone who may need help — to connect with locally trained professionals in real time.
What’s more, gaming operators must also train their staff to recognize problem gambling habits and prevent them, as well as avoid targeting problem gamblers with advertisements, among other things.
New York has multiple resources in place for those looking to recover from problem gambling. One option is the New York State HOPEline, which is a 24/7 hotline for those seeking help from gambling addiction and substance abuse. Another option is the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, which allows you to search for state certified outpatient programs to help combat problem gambling.