A member of congress is looking to set the wheels in motion on a bill which, if implemented, would place a ban on all online advertising for sports betting sites across the US. The detail of the bill would take its cue from the laws that were implemented in the 1980s and 90s to curtail cigarette advertising. If New York-based representative Paul Tonko is successful in his efforts, then there could be a significant impact on the betting industry across the country.
Tonko is a member of the US House of Representatives for the 20th Congressional District in the state of New York. So he’s not just a state congressman with designs on preventing gambling advertising within that state. His intention is that online advertising for betting sites would become illegal federally; something which may have a knock-on effect on betting companies’ willingness to broach newer markets, and consequently on efforts to legalize betting in states that don’t already have legal wagering.
The Bill, titled “Betting on our Future”, is targeted specifically at electronic and online-based advertising. Congressman Tonko argues that online ads are disproportionately more likely to be seen by younger users, who may be tempted to bet illegally. The bill cites a study that reveals that between 60-80% of high school students say they have gambled for real money. Although that betting is already illegal, the representative argues that being targeted by online ads will make vulnerable younger people more likely to bet in the future – either immediately or in the more far-off future.
At present, there is little information on how likely the bill is to pass, or whether amendments may yet be attached to it. The bill has in its early stages with no indication of whether it will gain broad enough support first to be placed before the House, and further, to be passed by majority vote and gain the same approvals in the US Senate. Most advertising done by betting companies is done online, with space often sold on sports-related websites and blogs, so it is easy to see how it would be shown to younger internet users.
Betting advertising has been something of an antagonistic topic in recent times, including in states which have recently adopted gambling legislation. Ohio’s gaming authorities had issued fines to numerous sportsbooks before one bet had been placed in the state, while the NBA is ordering that its various betting partners do not create any advertising using the term “risk-free” no matter the context.
Congressman Tonko bringing this legislation will not have gone unnoticed, as New York has been perhaps the most enthusiastic state when it comes to embracing legal sports betting. In the single year since it opened its sportsbooks, New York’s betting take alone dwarfed what many states have taken since 2018. It’s not believed that the congressman is against betting per se, but he is resolute in his intention that it should be kept away from younger eyes.