New York Bill Targets ‘Predatory’ Sports Betting Site Bonuses

While the legislation still has a ways to go before it becomes law, the fact it has been introduced at all suggests operators could be in for further scrutiny and direction from lawmakers and regulators in the wake of the Times series.

Last Updated: Dec 2, 2022 3:58 PM ET Read Time: 2 min
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Sports betting sites in New York may be about to understand, as the Bee Gees once sang, the New York Times’ effect on man. 

That is because, in the wake of a Times series on the spread of legal sports betting, a bill has been introduced in the New York Senate that would direct the state gaming commission to enact rules and regulations targeting "predatory” bonuses offered by online sportsbooks.

The bill's sponsor is Sen. Pete Harckham, a Democrat and chairman of the chamber's committee on alcoholism and substance abuse, and takes aim at sports betting sites offering "deposit matching, risk free betting, free money, free bets, site credits and profit boosts," a summary says.

Not only that, but a "justification" section of the bill (which was introduced this week) references the recent reporting by the Times. 

“Industry officials have cited their voluntary support for anti-addiction resources as proof that they can be trusted to operate without stricter government rules, but more safeguards must be put in place as this reporting has illustrated these predatory practices are triggering a spike in gambling addiction,” the proposed legislation claims. 

Figuring it out

While the bill still has a ways to go before it becomes law, the fact it has been introduced at all suggests operators could be in for further scrutiny and direction from lawmakers and regulators in the wake of the Times series. That reporting dove into the doings of the legal sports betting industry, including the sometimes-chummy lobbying that helped bring it into existence in certain states. 

Some states have also allowed operators to deduct the value of the bonuses they give players from their taxable revenue, lowering their overall tax bill. Interestingly, though, New York is not one of the states to do so, and the Empire State also has one of the highest tax rates in the U.S. for mobile sports betting, at 51%. What’s more, operators such as BetMGM have bristled at that levy and have curbed their investment in the state as a result. 

Even so, the U.S. sports-betting industry is still relatively young, as it only really took off following a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal law standing in the way of that expansion. More research on the practices and policies connected to the industry, and their effects on players, could lead to states tweaking their approach. 

Media coverage could influence the thinking of lawmakers as well. New York, then, could be just one of several states that starts to consider a policy change. 

“The mobile sports betting industry is utilizing targeted advertising that is personally tailored to lure in new customers from right within their homes,” Harckham’s bill says. “This means that following legal sports betting in New York State, multitudes of people who were not formerly presented with these predatory practices will fall susceptible to gambling addiction that could have otherwise been avoided.”

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