Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Fontana Aims To Ban Advertising to Self-Excluded Gamblers

Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Fontana aims to help individuals with gambling problems by introducing a bill to ban gambling companies from contacting individuals on the state’s voluntary self-exclusion list.

Fontana believes that those placing themselves on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s (PGCB) self-exclusion list are effectively admitting to a gambling problem. His proposal seeks to ensure that they won’t be tempted to gamble again by poorly targeted messages. Key prohibitions of SB1211 include:

  • Direct advertising or marketing to self-excluded persons or informing them of bonuses and promotions.
  • Providing anything of value to a self-excluded individual, including free play.
  • Providing loyalty program benefits or other complimentary services to self-excluded individuals.
  • Extending credit to a self-excluded player.

The bill establishes criminal penalties for compliance failures and requires operators to update their lists regularly and remove self-excluded individuals’ information from their marketing records. At the same time, it would allow them to share the self-exclusion lists with affiliates or partner entities in other jurisdictions.

Fontana, a Democrat, has gained bipartisan support, as six Democratic senators and one Republican are co-sponsoring the bill:

  • Sen. Jimmy Dillon (D)
  • Sen. Jay Costa (D)
  • Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D)
  • Sen. James Brewster (D)
  • Sen. John Kane (D)
  • Sen. Nicholas Miller (D)
  • Sen. Lisa Baker (R)

Fontana introduced the bill on May 28 and currently sits on the Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee. If passed, SB1211 will come into effect in 60 days. However, it faces a tight deadline, as the Pennsylvania legislative session ends on June 30.

Fontana’s Bill Aims To Protect 20,000 Pennsylvanians

Recently, the PGCB told Play Pennsylvania, a Bonus sister site, that 19,678 individuals were on the self-excluded list as of June 10. Currently, if a person self-excludes, they can still receive communication by phone, email, or social media from gambling companies, which Fontana finds unacceptable.

In addition to prohibiting that, his bill would require the list to be updated every 48 hours to ensure that individuals are protected from advertising about gambling.

For those failing to follow the rules, SB1211 also lays out penalties. The first offense will result in a misdemeanor and the following fine:

  • Up to $150,000 for individuals
  • Between $150,000 and $300,000 for gambling manufacturers
  • Between $300,000 and $600,000 for gambling entities

If an offender violates the law a second time, they face a felony charge. They also face doubled fines: up to $300,000 for individuals, between $300,000 and $600,000 for gambling manufacturers, and between $600,000 and $1.2 million for gambling entities.

The United Kingdom and Australia have similar laws in place and have occasionally issued hefty fines for missteps, such as a £490,000 ($600,000) penalty for Flutter-owned Paddy Power last year.

Fontana Leads Other Player Safety Efforts

SB1211 was introduced a little over a month after Fontana introduced a bill to ban the use of credit cards at Pennsylvania online casinos.

According to Fontana, the average Pennsylvanian has a credit card debt of over $5,600, and online gambling shouldn’t be a way to accumulate more. He believes removing credit cards as one of the payment methods at online casinos will protect players.

The credit card ban proposal received support, with five of the co-sponsors of SB1211 also co-sponsoring it. If passed, Pennsylvania would join Iowa, Massachusetts, and Tennessee in banning credit cards for online gambling.

However, since its introduction on April 22, SB1159 has not moved past the Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee.

About the Author

Chav Vasilev

Chav Vasilev

After years of managing fast-casual restaurants, Chav turned his passion for sports and occasional slot wins into a career as an iGaming writer. Sharing his time between Europe and the US, he has been exposed to betting and gambling for years and has closely followed the growth in the US. Chav is a proponent of playing responsibly and playing only at legal online sites. When not writing, you will find him watching and betting on sports, especially soccer, or trying to land the next big bonus on a slot.
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