NJ Lawmakers To Operators: Scale Back On Advertising

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In an ongoing effort to limit the amount of wagering advertising that residents are subjected to, a New Jersey General Assembly committee Monday morning moved forward a resolution that “condemns the overproliferation of pro-gambling advertising” in the state.

Assembly Resolution 168 doesn’t have any real teeth, but continues to move forward. It follows a trend across the country to clamp down on sports betting marketing and advertising and will be shared with gambling-related agencies in the state.

The resolution was one of several pieces of responsible-gambling-related legislation entertained by the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts, and passed with no discussion. Committee Chairman Ralph Caputo sponsored the resolution and Monday said, “To me, these enticements aren’t doing anything to help the people of New Jersey.” Clearly overwhelmed by the amount of sports betting advertisements on television, radio, and social media, Caputo said the ads were just about operators’ “thirst for revenue.”

New Jersey was the second state behind Delaware to launch brick-and-mortar sports betting after the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned May 14, 2018, and the first to go live with digital wagering. There are 22 mobile platforms available in the state, ranging from traditional sports betting sites like market leaders DraftKings and FanDuel to exchange wagering platform Prophet Exchange to trading platform Sporttrade. Many also offer iCasino.

Other states cracking down on advertising

State governments across the country this year have enthusiastically discussed ways to better control who has access to wagering and how much and where operators can market and advertise. The newest entrants in legal wagering, Ohio and Massachusetts, have set new standards for advertising and marketing, and other other states are beginning to take note.

In Massachusetts, for example, the regulator bans relationships between wagering operators and colleges, has limited marketing to locations or events where at least 75% of those in attendance are over 21, and requires a local gambling helpline phone number to be on every piece of advertising and marketing material.

States considering legal betting during the current legislative session are including more strict advertising and marketing guidelines than in the past, while in some legal states, including Pennsylvania, regulators are tamping down on the use of the phrases “risk-free” or “free” in promotional advertising.

And in Maine, where the public-comment period on proposed rules closed early this month, the Gambling Control Unit wants to limit promotional advertising to on operators’ websites only, would ban the use of any celebrities in sports betting advertising, and would only allow sportsbooks to advertise during live events on the channel that the event is being broadcast on.

The federal government has even weighed in, as one New York representative filed a bill that would completely prohibit betting advertising on television, radio, and the internet. Stakeholders say that no advertising isn’t the answer, but it’s clear that lawmakers and regulators across the country are telling the industry to rein in the advertising spend or those in government will do it for them.

In fact, the New Jersey resolution says just that: “This House urges sports betting and gambling companies operating in the State of New Jersey to exercise restraint and good judgment as they engage in advertisements in the State.”

Diversion court pilot program moves ahead

The Tourism, Gaming, and Arts Committee also heard testimony on a bill that would create a gambling diversion court, which would exclusively hear cases in which those with a gambling addiction have been convicted of a crime directly related to their addiction. Among those testifying were former Nevada Judge Cheryl Moss, who set up the first gambling diversion court in the nation.

The bill was unanimously approved.

The diversion court in New Jersey would have three locations and would hear cases as well as provide a program for the addicted person to complete. Resources would include mental health services and education, and those who go through the program would also be required to agree to pay restitution. Moss noted that the state of Ohio has also created a gambling diversion court.


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