New advertising regulations were authorized by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) in June, 2018, little over a year after sports betting became legal in the state. Promotion of sports betting to minors is generally prohibited by law.
There will be a 60-day delay before the restrictions take effect so that the public may have their say.
One of the new regulations passed on Monday is that “…a casino sports wagering licensee or sports pool provider must not authorize, conduct, or engage in any advertising, marketing, or branding for sports gambling that is directed at people under the minimum age.” This means that no one under the age of 21 should be the target of any direct marketing efforts.
The operator may not intend for the ad to be seen by children, yet children may nevertheless encounter it. The New York State Gaming Commission anticipated this problem and established that advertisements may not be broadcast “where there is a reasonably predictable proportion of the makeup of the audience that includes people under the minimum wagering age.”
Even if there is nothing in the ad itself that might pique a child’s interest, a gambling operator cannot, as an extreme example, air an advertisement for sports betting on the Disney Channel at 4:30 p.m.
Sometimes it might be difficult for operators to understand the guidelines, while other times it’s all plain sailing. Colleges and universities are prohibited from allowing the promotion of illegal activities like sports betting on their campuses and in school-owned media outlets (exceptions will be made for ads that might be available to college students, but are not specifically targeting the school, like an ad in the city newspaper). Furthermore, ads can’t include minors, which is strange even without the new laws.
The new rules are meant to prevent deceptive advertising, such as promoting an offer as “risk free” or “free” if the customer must still risk their own cash. Everyone associated with a gaming business must play by the rules.
At least one New York politician is pushing to go much farther. In early February, Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko of New York proposed the “Betting on Our Future Act,” which would outlaw all forms of promotion for sports betting conducted through electronic media.
The initiative, modeled after a statute prohibiting cigarette advertisements by Tonko, may be an effective rebuttal to those who claim that, if sports betting is legal and run by regulated firms, then advertising should be permitted. Commercials for cigarettes are banned on television, so there is already an established norm against promoting things that might be dangerous.