New York Online Gambling Sees Mix: iGaming Meeting, ‘Predatory Sportsbook Bonuses’ Bill

New York online gambling may see a mixture of love and hate this month, with a March 7 iGaming meeting scheduled with lawmakers and attempts to further regulate existing legal online sports betting. The Empire State saw movement on the latter on March 3, when state Sen. Peter B. Harckham filed S5395 – a bill “regarding predatory sportsbook bonuses.”

Harckham, D-Lewisboro, introduced S5395 today as a refiling of S9605. That Nov. 30 bill directed the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) “to promulgate rules and regulations regarding predatory sportsbook bonuses in mobile sports betting.”

However, Harckham filed S9605 before the 2023 session began. That meant for the New York State Legislature to approve it and pass it along to Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul to be signed into law, Harckham would have to reintroduce the proposed legislation during the regular session.

On Jan. 6, Harckham’s communications director, Tom Staudter, told Bonus the Senator would reintroduce the bill during the active session.

That’s what Harckham did today. Then he sent S5395 to the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering.

That committee’s chairman is state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., D-Ozone Park. Addabbo, an advocate of legal gambling expansion, told Bonus he doesn’t believe Harckham’s “predatory sportsbook bonuses” bill will hurt New York online casino gambling legalization efforts.

The primary New York iGaming bill, S4856, is also in that committee. The measure Addabbo introduced on Feb. 15 hasn’t moved, and no hearings are set for the body. However, Addabbo organized an informal roundtable discussion on March 7, aimed at getting buy-in from legislators to legalize iGaming and tax operators at 30.5%.

Meanwhile, Harckham isn’t alone in trying to add regulations to rein in New York online sportsbooks. The marketplace that launched on Jan. 8, 2022, is experiencing increased attention from lawmakers, the NYSGC, and New York online gambling industry watchdogs. While the language the NYSGC passed on Feb. 27 regarding tightening regulations on sports betting operators didn’t contain the word “predatory,” it did address much of what Harckham outlined.

UPDATE: 3/7/2023

Harckham emailed Bonus a comment today:

Millions of people enjoy sports gaming responsibly. But a certain percentage struggle with gambling addiction. Like any behavioral health issue, a gambling addiction can destabilize families and communities. Currently, many gaming advertisements entreat people to gamble with ‘risk-free’ bets and other inducements without properly disclosing the economic and personal risks. I am sponsoring legislation to direct the gambling commission to thoughtfully regulate these promotions.

Harckham’s Bill Hasn’t Changed

S5395 is still the same 1-page proposal to amend the “racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law.”

The version of the bill Harckham filed last year included a justification that revealed he was reacting to a Nov. 20 New York Times story package about online gambling.

While the industry called the Times’ coverage biased and, at times, inaccurate, lawmakers across the country paid attention. The publication even compiled a list on Dec. 8 of states planning to “revisit sports betting arrangements” allegedly because of its coverage.

Harckham claimed on Nov. 30:

Recent reporting by The New York Times analyzed the impacts of mobile sports betting across the country and the common practices used to lure in new customers. …

Across the country, the enforcement of mobile sports betting rules and regulations has been haphazard, with punishments often light or nonexistent, according to a NY Times survey of dozens of state gambling regulators. In New York, gambling companies accepted thousands of bets on lower-division football and basketball games, even though they were supposed to be off-limits.

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.

Addabbo’s current iGaming bill includes $11 million to address problem gambling.

Last year, lawmakers’ efforts to address problem gambling were halted by Hochul’s Nov. 23 veto of the bill creating the Problem Gambling Advisory Council (PGAC).

Harckham Isn’t Alone In His Concerns

On Feb. 27, the NYSGC voted to increase ad regulation on New York sportsbooks. On Jan. 26, A2624 debuted to establish “the legislative task force on online sports betting.”

The commission even cited S1550, a bill introduced on Jan. 12 by state Sen. Leroy Comrie, D-St. Albans. Comrie’s measure “requires all advertisements for gambling and sports betting to include warnings about potential harmful and addictive effects of gambling.”

That bill also sits in Addabbo’s committee.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
Back To Top

Get connected with us on Social Media