“Betting On Our Future Act”
On Feb. 8, New York Congressman Paul Tonko announced a piece of legislation to ban sportsbook advertising. Tonko’s legislation is coming just a few days before Super Bowl LVII – the most advertising-heavy sporting event of the year.
The bill, dubbed the “Betting on our Future Act” would “prohibit the advertising of sportsbooks on any medium of electronic communication subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.”
The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications across the U.S. and its territories. It is responsible for implementing and enforcing America’s communications law and regulations.
Tonko Calls Ads A “Dangerous Threat”
“This Sunday, millions of families across the U.S. will tune in to watch the Super Bowl. Between the plays, the halftime show, and the excitement, tens of millions will be bombarded by ad after ad from DraftKings, FanDuel, and others promising so called ‘risk free’ or ‘no sweat’ bets in their ruthless pursuit to get new customers hooked on their products,” Tonko said in a press release. “In the years since the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, these unfettered advertisements have run rampant, with betting companies shelling out billions to ensure they reach every screen across America. These ads pose a particularly dangerous threat to adolescents and young adults unaware of the risks involved in gambling, and to individuals prone to addiction.”
Tonko modeled the bill after the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, which banned tobacco advertisements.
“My legislation puts a halt to this dangerous practice and sends a powerful message to the online sports betting advertisers. Congress must take the necessary steps to reel in an industry with the power to inflict real, widespread harm on the American people.”
The fact sheet that accompanied the press release cited the following statistics as motivation for new safeguards:
- The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network hosted 45% more calls in 2021 than they did in the previous year.
- An estimated 7 million people in the U.S. have a gambling problem and/or gambling addiction.
- According to the International Center for Youth Gambling Problems & High-Risk Behaviors, between 60-80% of high school students report that they have gambled for money.
Growing Advertising Concerns Across Country
Advertising restrictions on sportsbooks are becoming increasingly popular in 2023, but none of them have sought to ban anything on a federal level just yet.
Just last week, the NBA banned all of its partners and broadcasters from using the term “risk-free” in advertising and communications. This trend was set in motion when the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) required its operators to leave “risk-free” out of any and all advertising language, along with several other strict advertising requirements for its operators. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has followed in Ohio’s footsteps in this prohibition, as they get ready to launch online sports betting in March.