Tonko Bill Would Regulate Sports Betting Ads, AI Use At Federal Level

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US Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) is following up his legislation on sports betting ad restrictions with a much more comprehensive package.

Tonko announced the SAFE Bet Act Tuesday, which will be formally introduced later this year. The bill will focus on three key areas of sports betting that would be regulated at the federal level if passed:

Tonko details reasons for updated bill

Tonko held a virtual press conference to discuss the expanded legislation.

“Since the 2018 Supreme Court decision that allowed sports betting to become legalized in a widespread fashion the sportsbook industry has been operating in a Wild West, largely unregulated environment,” Tonko said during the Zoom press conference. “You can clearly see this in the wall-to-wall advertisements that you can catch anytime you watch a sporting event or just scrolling through social media.

“Even worse, these advertisements are largely predatory in nature, with big gambling companies offering hundreds if not thousands of dollars in so-called free or bonus bets. These have one clear purpose: to hook and retain a new generation of consumers.”

Restrictions on sports betting ad language

Last year, the US sports betting industry underwent a significant change that saw the use of the word “free” eliminated from nearly all ads. That change was largely in part to Ohio‘s rule that banned the word if the promotion required a deposit of any kind.

Tonko is taking that a step farther. The SAFE Bet Act would ban “programing designed to induce gambling with ‘bonus,’ ‘no sweat,’ ‘bonus bets,’ or odds boosts.”

The bill would also ban betting ads during live sporting events.

Daily deposits limited

The legislation would prohibit sportsbooks from accepting more than five deposits from a customer over a 24-hour period.

It will also call for “affordability checks” on customers before the operators accept “large wagers” over a 24-hour or 30-day window. The size of those bets is not defined.

Anti-money laundering (AML) regulations in the US already require gambling companies to file reports of transactions of $10,000 or more. The bill will also prohibit any deposits from credit cards.

Tonko eyes AI in sports betting

The live betting market could take a hit if Tonko’s bill is passed as it is currently designed.

The use of artificial intelligence would be banned in two specific uses. The first would be prohibiting the use of AI to track player’s habits or offer personalized promotions.

The first is in the creation of gambling products like microbets. Many companies like Kambi are already investing in AI modeling software that will add to and improve the uptime of live betting options.

“There are some sports betting products that pose a risk to the general population that require consistent federal minimum standards rather than reliance on an inconsistent state-by-state approach and this is one of them,” Mark Gottlieb, the executive director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute, said on the call.