A first shoe that many in the sports betting industry feared is hovering inches above the Congress floor, as a proposal to ban ads dropped Thursday.
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced the Betting on our Future Act, which would treat sports betting like cigarettes and ban all advertisements on any medium in the jurisdiction of the FCC including TV, radio and the internet.
This would drastically change the US sports betting industry, as advertising would mostly be limited to snail mail, print media and billboards.
Tonko tagets ‘predatory’ sports betting ads
Sportsbooks are using a “variety of predatory tactics,” according to a fact sheet distributed by Tonko, including massive promotions and the use of “risk-free” and “no-sweat” bets to acquire customers.
The fact sheet specifically called out DraftKings, and how it spent $500 million in sales and marketing in 2020 and another $400 million in the first half of 2021.
Children and young people are the fastest-growing demographic of gamblers, the sheet continues. Between 60% and 80% of high school students say they have gambled for money already, according to the International Center for Youth Gambling Problems & High-Risk Behaviors.
That sheet also noted that universities and colleges have partnered with sportsbooks. That gives the industry “direct access to a new and impressionable generation of gamblers,” he said.
Is federal regulation the best way?
Even if this federal sports betting bill goes nowhere, this clearly could be a wake-up call to the sports betting industry to get its house in order.
Regulation out of Ohio already led to BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings being held accountable since its Jan. 1 launch because of banned language in ads. Ohio’s toughness is having a ripple effect across the industry as well.
Sports Business Journal reported earlier this week the NBA will ban its betting partners from using the term “risk free” on league and team-controlled platforms. Operators have also started to use different terms themselves, with many opting to use the phrase “bonus bets” instead of free bets.