New York lawmakers are again asking gaming regulators to address “predatory sportsbook bonuses,” despite regulators adopting new rules addressing that issue last year. Meanwhile, on Jan. 18, an Assemblyman introduced AB8843, and on Jan. 3, a Senator reintroduced SB5395. That means the 2024 New York online casino bill sits in the same Senate committee as the measure characterizing promotions for the state’s current form of legal online gambling as “predatory.”
New York’s legal online sports betting marketplace launched on Jan. 8, 2022.
On Jan. 11, 2024, state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. introduced SB8185. That New York online casino, poker, and iLottery bill sponsored by Addabbo, D-Woodhaven, has been sitting in the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. Addabbo is the chairman of the committee that also now houses SB5395, introduced by state Sen. Peter B. Harckham, D-Lewisboro.
Meanwhile, in the New York State Assembly, a companion “predatory sportsbook bonuses” bill entered that body’s gaming committee on Jan. 18.
Both measures propose the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) “promulgate rules and regulations regarding predatory sportsbook bonuses in mobile sports betting, including but not limited to, deposit matching, risk-free betting, free money, free bets, site credits, and profit boosts.”
Rewinding to 2023, the NYSGC added new marketing and advertising rules for sportsbooks. So, the ad language that concerns these lawmakers may already be out of 2024 ads.
NYSGC Communications Director Brad Maione told Bonus on Jan. 23:
You may want to review sections 5329.37 and 5330.38 for current rules.
Also, on Jan. 23, Bonus sent questions to Harckham’s communications director, Tom Staudter, and AB8843’s sponsor, state Assemblyman Nader J. Sayegh, D-Yonkers. Neither responded immediately.
Staudter told Bonus:
Sen. Harckham did not reintroduce the bill; it carried over from last year.
AB8843, SB5395 Based on 2022 News
Sayegh, AB8843’s primary sponsor, used Harckham’s justification verbatim. Harckham also filed the identical five paragraphs with the original submission on Nov. 30, 2022, then again on March 3, 2023, and finally on Jan. 3, 2024.
Justifications for AB8843 and SB5395 cite concerns the bill sponsors felt were raised by reporting in The New York Times.
On Nov. 20, 2022, the Times published a package of articles about online gambling. Harckham provided lawmakers with a link to the Nov. 21, 2022, Times newsletter’s summary of the coverage.
Harckham wrote for the 2022 bill, which has been repeated for the 2024 legislation:
New gamblers are often drawn in with marketing campaigns citing “free bets” or even “free money.” Sportsbooks often give away free bets, not just upon signing up for the site, but sometimes as a trigger response as a reward for betting many times or as an incentive to return. “Risk-free” betting gives customers refunds following a losing bet, only to be used towards a new wager.
The mobile sports betting industry is utilizing 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.
The 1-page-long bills are then attached, with the language about directing the gaming commission to create rules and regulations stopping the “predatory sportsbook bonuses.”
Asked about the rules the regulator added in 2023, Maione said to Bonus on Jan. 23 that the regulator “doesn’t comment on proposed or pending legislation.”
However, he directed Bonus to the sections of the 579-page-long NYSGC Casino Gaming Rules and Regulations that contain the 2023 amendments.
Now, New York online sportsbooks must submit “all mobile sports wagering promotions” to the regulator 15 days ahead of publication or broadcast in order to get the commission’s approval.
In addition to rules about not advertising to any New Yorkers under 21 and not disseminating “false, deceptive, or misleading” statements, the rules specifically address “risk-free” bonus offers.
The rules say sportsbook ads can’t “describe sports wagering as ‘free,’ ‘cost-free,’ or ‘free of risk’ if the patron needs to incur any loss or risk the patron’s own money to use or withdraw winnings from the wager.”
Meanwhile, the New York online casino bill must be included in the state budget by April to possibly become law in 2024. Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul didn’t include the measure in her executive budget, but she may sign it into law if it’s in the legislature’s budget.