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Congress Proposes Legislation to Further Regulate Marketing for Sportsbooks

Written by: Michael Savio
Published March 26, 2024
6 min read
Legislation to Further Regulate Marketing for Sportsbooks

Major news from the US Congress came amid a turbulent week for the sports betting industry.

New York Representative Paul Tonko announced this week that he will propose legislation to restrict marketing for US sportsbooks. Tonko shared that he believes sports betting is like the Wild West, where loose regulations let operators run wild. 

The proposal would establish the SAFE Bet Act. If passed, it would place the following regulations on operators across the country:

  • No more advertising during live sporting events

  • No language like “bonus bets” or “no sweat bet” in any advertisements

  • Credit cards banned as a deposit method

  • No more than five deposits from a bettor in a single day

  • Prohibit the use of AI to track gambling habits or create prop bets

The proposal is drastic, but it comes at a time when problem gambling continues to rise. While many states are pouring money into programs aimed at curbing the issue, some believe that sportsbook advertising is hurting that effort. In proposing the Act, Tonko compared sports betting to the tobacco industry.

"Just as in the tobacco industry when it was determined that that industry was posing a public health situation, we have now displaced Joe Camel with celebrity spokespeople and, yes, free product," Tonko said of the SAFE Bet Act.

Congress has failed to pass legislation to limit sportsbook marketing in the past, but that could change given the spike in problem gambling.

Rough Week for the Sports Betting Industry

Aside from the news from Congress, two other significant storylines marred the sports betting industry this week. One involved a friend and employee of Shohei Ohtani allegedly stealing millions from the star to cover gambling debts. Ohtani’s story about the incident changed during the week, leading many to question if the funds were stolen or if the gambling debt actually belonged to the reigning MVP.

This week, Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff also ripped the state of sports betting in the US. He spoke of death threats he was receiving and ripped the current regulations around the industry. Bickerstaff is not alone; several pro and college players have reported similar issues. While some states have made their own laws to prevent harassment of athletes, coaches, and referees, many believe it should be addressed at a national level.

While these issues are unrelated, expect both to take center stage as Congress debates the upcoming proposal.

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Michael Savio

423 Articles

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.

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