American Gaming Association Comes Out Against Bill to Bar Sportsbook Ads

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The nation’s top gaming industry trade group has come out in strong opposition to a New York congressman’s proposal to ban sports betting advertisements on television, radio and the internet.

A screen capture from a DraftKings commercial featuring comedian Kevin Hart that aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl. The American Gaming Association has come out in opposition to a bill filed last week by US Rep. Paul Tonko that would bar sports betting operators from advertising on television, radio, or the internet. (Image: DraftKings/YouTube)

In a statement to, American Gaming Association (AGA) Vice President for Government Relations Chris Cylke said that the bill filed last week by US Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., would produce some undesired consequences if passed.

“Any such effort only serves to reduce awareness for legal options to the benefit of illegal, offshore operators and the detriment of consumers and communities,” Cylke said. “The proposed legislation would violate well-established free speech protections and undermine the expertise of more than 5,000 state and tribal gaming regulators across the country.”

Tonko filed the HR 967 on Thursday, February 9, saying the sportsbooks that spend billions of dollars to target Americans through the airwaves and online pose a threat to young people vulnerable to influencers and to individuals who have a heightened risk of addictive behaviors. He said he fashioned the bill after legislation that barred cigarette makers from airing commercials more than 50 years ago.

A draft version of the bill can be found here.

HR 967 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on which the eight-term lawmaker is a member. No hearings have been scheduled for Tonko’s bill.

AGA: Gaming Industry Polices Itself

Cylke said that the AGA appreciates Tonko’s interest in responsible gaming and that the association will continue to make that a priority within the industry.

Responsibility is a foundation of the legal gaming industry, and that includes with advertising,” Cylke said. “In fact, there’s never been more attention paid or resources invested in responsible gaming and problem gambling resources. This includes our proactive efforts establishing the Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, which mandates responsible gaming message inclusion and imposes restrictions on target audiences, outlets and content.”

A compliance review board oversees the code. That panel is currently led by Becky Harris from the UNLV International Gaming Institute and executives from FanDuel, Hard Rock, MGM Resorts International, Penn Entertainment, and Rush Street Gaming.

Group Wants Washington to Tackle Illegal Gambling

Rather than focus on legal, licensed operators, the AGA has called on Congress and other federal authorities to do more to pursue illegal gaming operators and block unlicensed offshore sportsbooks and online casinos.

Late last year, an AGA report estimated that the amount of money Americans gamble through offshore operators and unregulated skill machines reaches nearly $511 billion each year. That means states lose out on more than $13 billion in revenue, and licensed operators miss out on more than $44 billion in revenue.

Offshore sportsbooks and illegal bookmaking rings account for $63 billion in wagers, according to the study, with states losing roughly $700 million in tax revenue.

“Congress should instead focus its attention on combatting the predatory and pervasive offshore illegal market that offers no responsible gaming measures, age verification or problem gambling resources,” Cylke said.

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