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US congressman calls for nationwide ban on sports betting ads

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New York congressman Paul Tonko recently introduced a bill to tackle the prevalence of sportsbook advertisements in the United States.

The bill, titled the ‘Betting on our Future Act’, is seeking a ban on sportsbook ads across the country. If successful, all adverts for online and electronic sports betting will no longer be legal. Congressman Tonko modeled his law after the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1966.

In his statement while announcing the bill, Tonko described the sports betting industry as predatory and aggressive in its marketing. He mentioned that his bill comes days before the Super Bowl, arguably the biggest betting day of the year in the US, making an example of how consumers would have been bombarded with ads promising them ‘risk-free’ bets on the game.

Tonko argued that the lives of young Americans, in particular, are at risk if the sports betting industry is allowed to continue to run amok. He buttressed his point with a fact sheet that showed calls to the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network going up by 45% in 2021, with 60-80% of high school students having gambled for money.

In his introductory statement, Tonko said: “Today, I’m introducing the Betting on our Future Act to take federal action to reel in the problematic rise of predatory advertising by sports gambling companies. Many of you may have noticed these incessant ads, which experts say are contributing to a rise in problem gambling.”

He then called for a check on the promotional activities of these operators: “These aggressive advertising campaigns pose particular dangers, with promises of ‘risk-free’ bets enticing vulnerable individuals to get hooked on their products. If these companies won’t do more to curb the surge in problem gambling, the federal government must step in.”
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