New Jersey to Crack Down on Regulated Sportsbooks

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:

The American Gaming Association does not have a scapegoat when it comes to New Jersey regulated sports betting.  More focused on offshore betting sites, the AGA failed to monitor its own house and now they're having to pay the piper so to speak.

Offshore sportsbooks have mostly avoided the New Jersey sports betting market and, in their wake, a group of reckless irresponsible regulated gambling sites emerged.  Just because they are regulated doesn't mean these companies employ the best practices.  For years the US airline industry was regulated.  Since deregulation there have been fewer fatal crashes. 

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) Director David Rebuck are not liking what they are seeing.  On Thursday, both introduced new initiatives to bolster responsible gaming efforts with a special focus on data collection to determine whether an individual may be suffering from a gambling disorder or addiction.

Attorney General Platkin made the announcement as he delivered the keynote speech before regulators and industry representatives at the East Coast Gaming Congress held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.

“As New Jersey’s gaming and sports wagering industries continue to grow and mature, so do our obligations to assist patrons who are at risk for problem gambling,” said Attorney General Platkin. “By establishing a dedicated, senior level position within the Division of Gaming Enforcement to focus on responsible gaming, we are sending a clear message that we take this work seriously – and so should the industry. Our other initiatives announced today will help protect consumers and make it easier for individuals to access the help they need when their gaming behavior becomes problematic.”

“We have seen tremendous growth in sports wagering and online gaming in New Jersey,” said DGE Director David Rebuck. “In the face of that boom, we have a duty to protect the public from advertising that could be misleading or harmful. And for those in the grip of gambling addiction, we need to offer as many exit ramps from their condition as possible.”

New online and sports gambling advertising standards will be introduced as a result.  These will make it clear that operators must make responsible gaming a priority through the following:

  • displaying prominently New Jersey’s 1-800-GAMBLER hotline in their ads;
  • ending dubious promises of “guaranteed wins” or “risk-free” bets if the patron will not be fully compensated for the loss of their funds;
  • making wagering requirements clear in their terms and conditions;
  • limiting advertising in locations where it would entice those under 21 years of age to play; and
  • providing the public with the ability to swiftly opt out of direct advertising.

DGE will also be making it easier for players with problem gaming behaviors to exclude themselves from gaming while incorporating other tools such as a dedicated hotline and video conferencing for those seeking professional help with their gambling addiction from the comfort of their homes.

“The increase of online gambling opportunities, access and the amount of advertising has put many more people in New Jersey at risk for problem gambling. These measures will help enforce and expand responsible gaming, and will be bolstered with the establishment of a Responsible Gaming Coordinator,” said Felicia Grondin, Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. “The standards outlined today reflect the Attorney General and DGE’s resolve to promote responsible play and make help available to those faced with a gambling addiction. We are grateful for the State of New Jersey’s efforts to focus on problem gambling and promote responsible gambling practices; they are needed now more than ever.”

This news comes as major leagues and broadcasters vow to crack down on sports betting advertisements.

Forgive us for being skeptical.   It's not as if we're the only one's in that camp.

David Schwartz, a gambling historian at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, tells the AP the prospects for government control of sports betting ads are uncertain.

“I can see how it would be in the leagues’ and operators’ best interests to avoid formal federal oversight,” he said. “Advertising is an area that touches not just customers, but the public at large. As such, it may have more visibility than even the actual business of taking bets. It is understandable that those involved want to get out in front of this.”

Speaking Wednesday at the East Coast Gaming Congress, West Virginia state Delegate Shawn Fluharty said there is definitely concern among state lawmakers over the frequency of sports betting advertising.

“If you’re talking to any people out there, they’re probably a little tired of seeing Jamie Foxx on TV,” he said, referring to the actor’s widely ads for BetMGM’s sportsbook.  Foxx is recovering in the hospital from an undisclosed medical condition.

- Gilbert Horowitz,

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