New York Online Sports Betting Target of Bill About ‘Predatory Sportsbook Bonuses’

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New York online sports betting is in the crosshairs of a state Senate bill proposed today. S9605 directs the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) “to promulgate rules and regulations regarding predatory sportsbook bonuses in mobile sports betting.”

New York’s online sportsbooks launched on Jan. 8.

Today’s 1-page proposal to amend the “racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law” is happening because of a Nov. 20 New York Times story package about online gambling.

It’s unclear if this bill will impact years of New York online casino legalization advocacy from state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., D-Ozone Park.

Addabbo tells Bonus he plans to work with Gov. Kathy C. Hochul to get the iGaming measure included in the FY 2023 New York State Executive Budget that she may present in January. If that’s not possible, Addabbo says he will try to add online casino legalization to the state budget that legislators approve in April.

Bonus Regulation Bill Due to Coverage Industry Disliked

Representatives of the online gambling industry characterized the publication’s coverage as biased, at best.

Gambling trade associations, including the American Gaming Association (AGA) and iDEA Growth (iDevelopment and Economic Association), immediately published statements about the Times’ articles.

iDEA Growth told Bonus on Nov. 21:

Online sports betting and iGaming is one of the most highly regulated industries in the United States. The alternative is highly accessible illegal sites that pose significant risks to consumers.

Michael Pollock, managing director at the Spectrum Gaming Group, writes on LinkedIn:

We at Spectrum Gaming Group are appalled by the NYT story, which inaccurately and unfairly quoted Joe Weinert from our team.

New York Online Sports Betting Bill Justification

State Sen. Peter B. Harckham, D-Lewisboro, didn’t have an announcement about his motivation for sponsoring the bill on his New York State Senate page or his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube accounts.

However, Harckham does provide a “justification” for the proposed legislation with the bill on the New York State Senate site.

At the bottom of the justification for the measure now resting in the Senate Rules Committee, he links to the Nov. 21 newsletter summary of the Times articles:

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 .

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.

Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have limitations upon when advertisements for “free betting” or other predatory sports betting tactics can be aired, and Canada has prohibited them all together.

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.

Harckham’s Bill Lacks Details

Harckham’s bill to amend state law is pithy.

The bill he sponsored tells the NYSGC:

To promulgate rules and regulations regarding predatory sportsbook 4 bonuses in mobile sports betting, including but not limited to, deposit 5 matching, risk free betting, free money, free bets, site credits and 6 profit boosts.

Harckham’s comments about online sportsbooks causing gambling addictions are matters Addabbo plans to address with legislators.

On June 2, both New York State Legislature branches passed a bill creating the Problem Gambling Advisory Council (PGAC). Hochul vetoed it on Nov. 23.

About the Author
Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Fletcher's newspaper career started at Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. She covers breaking news from Philadelphia, as needed. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report.

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