New York Bill Proposes to Regulate Sportsbook Bonuses

As sports betting expands in the U.S., so do the advertising pitches for customers offering free bets and other bonuses. New York state Senator Pete Harckham (l.) introduced a bill to regulate such practices.

The television and radio ads are plentiful if not ubiquitous. The goal of sportsbook operators in New York is to convince customers they offer the best deal, whether it’s odds or free bets or any number of come-ons.

New York state Senator Pete Harckham would like to see such a practice regulated—he introduced legislation directing the state gaming commission to do just that to control what he terms “predatory” mobile sportsbook bonuses.

“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,” Harckham said.

The proposal, which has no Assembly backer yet, grew out of a New York Times article which painted a less than rosy look at the industry and its reliance on predatory bonuses “including but not limited to deposit matching, risk-free betting, free money, free bets, site credits and profit boosts.”

State Senator Joe Addabbo, chairman of the Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee, told Sports Handle he hopes to conduct a roundtable discussion in January with Harckham, Assembly Racing and Wagering Chairman J. Gary Pretlow, and maybe members of the gaming commission and leaders in the addiction field.

“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. “But this is definitely on the radar, especially for me.”

The U.K. has more restrictions when it comes to such tactics and Canada bans them altogether.