In response to the growing popularity of legal sports betting, particularly through mobile apps, New York Representative Paul Tonko has introduced legislation aimed at prohibiting sportsbook advertisements on television, radio, and the internet. Drawing parallels with the historic 1970 law that limited cigarette advertising, Tonko, a Democrat, expresses concern over the ease of access to gambling apps and the potential for addiction, especially among the youth. The bill emerges amid rising rates of problem gambling and calls to the Office of Addiction Services and Supports in New York state, highlighting the need for protective measures against gambling-related harm.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) opposes Tonko’s proposed restrictions, arguing that such measures would inadvertently favor illegal, offshore betting operators by diminishing public awareness of legal gambling options. The AGA emphasizes the importance of focusing on combating these illicit markets rather than restricting legal advertising, which includes updated marketing standards to enhance protection against misleading promotions and ensure responsible gaming.
Despite facing challenges in gaining widespread support, with only one co-sponsor so far, Tonko remains optimistic about raising awareness of the issue and garnering backing for his initiative. Additionally, Tonko has reached out to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, advocating for the recognition of gambling disorder as a mental health and substance use disorder, thus necessitating coverage as an essential health benefit. This move underscores the broader implications of gambling addiction on public health and the urgency of addressing this issue at the federal level.
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