New York state Sen. Pete Harckham (D-Lewisboro) has proposed legislation directing the state gaming commission to come up with rules and regulations regarding what the bill calls “predatory” mobile sportsbook bonuses.
The one-page proposal, which seems to be a direct reaction to an unflattering look at the regulated sports gambling industry published by The New York Times in November, seeks to combat predatory bonuses, “including but not limited to deposit matching, risk-free betting, free money, free bets, site credits and profit boosts.”
The bill, which does not have a co-sponsor in the Assembly, currently sits in the Senate Rules Committee.
Sen. Joe Addabbo, chairman of the Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee, told Sports Handle he likely will convene a roundtable with Harckham, Assembly Racing and Wagering Chairman J. Gary Pretlow, and perhaps members of the gaming commission and leaders in the addiction field to discuss potential rule changes when the Senate next meets in January.
“I didn’t need the articles from The New York Times and I don’t necessarily need this bill right now to know that problem gambling is an important issue, one we addressed at the time with 12 safeguards and protocols and money set aside to treat the pitfalls of addiction,” Addabbo said. “The bottom line is to make sure the gaming commission does its part, and apparently they are, because they get accolades nationally for their work. This is definitely on the radar, especially for me.”
Taxes pouring in, but at what cost?
Legal mobile sports betting launched in New York on Jan. 8, and the Empire State has quickly emerged as the sports betting capital of the United States. New York sports bettors have risked $14.4 billion in sports wagers since launch, which has netted the state $616 million in new taxes.
In his justification for the bill on the New York Senate website, Harckham references the series of articles published by the Times on Nov. 20.
“Recent reporting by The New York Times analyzed the impacts of mobile sports betting across the country and the common practices it used to lure its new customers. 1. New gamblers are often drawn in with marketing campaigns citing, ‘free bets’ or even, ‘free money,'” Harckham states. “Sportsbooks often give away free bets, not just upon signing up for the site, but sometimes as a trigger response as a reward for betting many times or as an incentive to return.”
He also states, “Other countries such as the United Kingdom have limitations upon when advertisements for ‘free betting’ or other predatory sports betting tactics can be aired, and Canada has prohibited them all together.”
Sportsbook operators have complained about New York’s 51% tax on gross gaming revenue, the highest such tax rate in the nation. In some cases, they argue that they took losses in the early going in the state precisely because of the marketing spend and sign-up offers and other bonuses Harckham is seeking to regulate.