Tonko Fine-Tuning Federal Bill That Limits Sports Betting Ads, AI Use

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Language included in a federal bill restricting sports betting advertisements is being worked on before the legislation is formally introduced later this year.

US Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) wants to ensure the SAFE Bet Act achieves all that he intended for the sports betting community when it is put forward, he told LSR on Sunday.

“We put a framework out, now we are word smithing it,” Tonko said while attending a community event in Saratoga Springs, NY. “We are networking with folks to make certain we get (the bill) exactly as we intended.”

Proposed sports betting restrictions

Tonko’s bill puts three areas of the sports betting industry in focus for federal regulation:

Tonko first addressed advertising last year in the Betting on our Future Act.

Advertising under the microscope

Several states have specific regulations around advertising and the language used to entice customers.

Ohio sports betting regulators, for example, do not allow sportsbooks to advertise promotions as “free bets” or “risk-free”when customers are required to bet their money first. That rule largely led to the end of using those terms across the industry.

All logos at stadiums for Massachusetts sportsbooks, meanwhile, must include “21 and over” language.

Tonko’s bill takes it a step further

The SAFE Bet Act would ban “programming designed to induce gambling with ‘bonus,’ ‘no sweat,’ ‘bonus bets,’ or odds boosts.”

Tonko’s bill would also ban betting ads during live sporting events.

“We’re not looking to outlaw gambling,” Tonko said. “I think this unrestricted, wild west environment is not helpful to anybody and we think it’s necessary to have some restrictions so there are not these targeted audiences that are preyed upon (by advertising).”

Sports betting deposits eyed as well

The federal legislation would prohibit sportsbooks from accepting more than five deposits from a customer over 24 hours.

It would also apply “affordability checks” on customers before they make large bets. Exactly what that bet size will be is still under discussion.

“The revenues (for states) are important, but let’s make sure we know what the ripple effects are,” Tonko said. “I want to make certain there are no harmful outcomes, especially to our young and those who are on recovery lists who have been targeted too.”

States look to protect players

On the state level, Maine sportsbooks play by strict advertising rules. They cannot use celebrities in advertising, nor can they promote bonus offers. In Canada, Ontario sportsbooks face similar rules that ban current and retired athletes from most ads.

Some Pennsylvania lawmakers want to prohibit customers from using credit cards to fund online gambling accounts. The proposal included PA sports betting and online casino apps.

A recent Minnesota sports betting proposal also included specific financial limits. It outlined how much players can deposit and lose in a given period.

Use of AI in sports betting targeted

The SAFE Bet Act would also restrict the use of artificial intelligence.

AI could not be used to track player habits or offer personalized promotions under the proposal.

It would also prohibit sportsbooks from using AI to create gambling products, such as AI pricing for live betting.