New York sports wagering ad regulations became more restrictive on Oct. 3. That’s when the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) approved changes to the state’s sportsbook marketing and advertising rules.
Today’s unanimous vote in favor of the Sports Wagering Advertising and Marketing regulation additions and one amendment brings months of discussion to a close.
At a high level, the changes stop New York sportsbook operators from using words like “free,” “cost-free,” or “free of risk.” Operators and their affiliates can’t make “false, deceptive, or misleading statements.” The new rules also tell sportsbooks not to advertise to minors, anyone under 21, or problem gamblers.
Most of the strengthened regulations reflect language suggested for sports betting operators in March by the American Gaming Association (AGA). The commission even noted the similarity to the AGA’s Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering in today’s 70-page-long Public Meeting Book.
The commission began its process of tightening sports wagering ad regulations last year when lawmakers reacted to coverage of the online sportsbooks in The New York Times. At that time, legislators and regulators around the US began calling for stronger regulation of online gambling marketing and advertising.
If New York lawmakers do introduce an online casino bill in 2024, these regulations may be part of the proposed legislation.
FanDuel’s Questions About the New Rules
Even though the commission accepted public comments about the proposed rules before today’s meeting, only FanDuel Sportsbook representatives provided objections as a sportsbook operator. Nonprofit iDEA Growth (iDevelopment and Economic Association) and a group advocating for New York broadcasters also weighed in, but the commission didn’t mention the content of that input.
However, the Public Meeting Book did include a couple of pages of FanDuel’s thoughts.
FanDuel Group leaders asked that the commission clarify if the new sports wagering ad regulations mean operators can’t enter into payment agreements with affiliate sites. Affiliate sites like Bonus have pages that refer readers to the operators, where consumers can download the apps or sign up on gambling sites. For instance, the link in this sentence leads to a page showing bonus offers at New York sportsbooks.
The affiliate-related FanDuel objections didn’t end there. The sportsbook operator told the commission it couldn’t be held responsible for affiliates’ regulatory violations, despite what the new rules say.
Plus, the regulation prohibiting advertisements or promotions in the “area of a college or university campus” was unclear.
As the commission’s meeting book said:
FanDuel stated that the Rule language was ‘vague and could be read to include unaffiliated residential and commercial areas that border a college or university campus.’
FanDuel’s other requests of the commission included:
- FanDuel wanted the language about marketing to bettors who “may be” problem gamblers switched to “known” as such.
- Have a specific guideline about where to cut off marketing and advertising to an audience — when 73.6% to 75% of its members are under 21
FanDuel may have had the loudest operator voice because it has the most to lose.
FanDuel has had the largest market share in New York sports betting since the marketplace launched on Jan. 8, 2022. New York is also the No. 1 sports wagering revenue state.
Sports Wagering Ad Regulations ‘Protect Consumers’
In the two pages of italicized fine print commissioners approved today to strengthen sports wagering ad regulations, several additions covered protecting minors and “young adults” under New York sportsbooks’ legal gambling age of 21.
For instance, a portion of Page 66 of the Public Meeting Book says:
No sports wagering message shall be designed to appeal primarily to those below the legal age for sports wagering by depicting cartoon characters or by featuring entertainers or music that appeal primarily to audiences under the wagering minimum age.
Much of the language relating to prohibiting images of minors and celebrities they admire in gambling advertising was similar to marketing and advertising guidelines Ontario’s regulator announced on Aug. 29.
Meanwhile, this sentence in the Public Meeting Book seems to summarize the sentiment from the NYSGC:
Making these reasonable requirements applicable to all sports wagering operators, and not just those who are American Gaming Association members, would promote uniformity in good practices across all regulated parties.
NYSGC Chairman Brian O’Dwyer mentioned at the end of today’s meeting that not all good practices can be regulated into existence. For instance, the DraftKings 9/11 “Never Forget” parlay that O’Dwyer said “appalled” commissioners.
Good taste cannot be legislated or regulated.
So he’ll meet in Schenectady with Matt Kalish — president of DraftKings North America and its co-founder — to ensure the “disgusting” marketing never happens again.