Interpreting the New York Gaming Commission’s Rules on Advertising and Sports Wagering

The New York Gaming commission has released regulations that will govern sports betting in New York State.  Sports wagering has already commenced at some facilities.

Sports wagering is limited to “brick and mortar” facilities, i.e. casinos.  Accordingly, the following state licensed casinos may operate sports wagering facilities: Del Lago Resort And Casino, Rivers Casino And Resort, Resorts World Catskills and Tioga Downs Casino.   In addition to these facilities, full service Native American casinos may offer sports wagering.  At this point, the Oneida Nation is planning sports books at Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Yellow Brick Road Casino and Point Place Casino.  Others are sure to follow.

On-line sports wagering has not been authorized in New York State.  Thus you should not broadcast advertising for any sports wagering involving on-line sports betting.  Fantasy leagues such as Draft Kings or Fan Duel are legal in New York.  You may accept advertising from these sources because fantasy leagues are generally not considered to be gambling per se, but considered a game of skill.

Sports wagering offers stations significant advertising opportunities for stations.  The Gaming Commission’s regulations are enforceable against the casinos. It is the casino’s responsibility to make sure it’s advertising meets the regulations. Nonetheless, knowing the regulations will help you better serve your clients. Moreover, there may be FCC license implications if a station knowingly broadcasts advertisements that are illegal under New York law.

In general, the new sports wagering regulations incorporate the regulations that currently apply to advertisements for casino gaming.  In this regard, you should make sure the content of the advertisement does not include or reference any prohibited activity described below.

General Rules

  • Casinos must obtain a separate sports pool license. Make sure your advertiser has this separate license and is authorized to conduct sports wagering at its facility.
  • No person under 21 may place a sports wager.
  • Wagers may not be accepted from any “sports pool participant.” This includes anyone who may undermine the integrity of the system, including athletes whose performance may be used to determine the outcome of such wagering, players, coaches, referees or other game official, trainers, or team employees.  Wagers may not be accepted from an employee of the sport’s governing body (i.e. the league or conference) or anyone with non-public confidential information.  In effect, any person who holds a position of authority or influence to exert influence over the sporting event may not place a sports wager.

Restrictions on amateur and college sports

  • No sports wagering on amateur, interscholastic or youth sports.
  • No wagering on any college game, tournament or sporting event (e.g. NIT, Big East, A-10, NCAA championships) if it is being held within the State of New York. This prohibition applies even if there are no New York colleges in the tournament.
  • No wagering on any game, tournament or sporting event involving a college or university located in New York. This prohibition applies to all games, even those held outside the state. For example, if Syracuse Basketball is playing Duke at Duke, it is still prohibited.  If Union is playing in the NCAA Frozen Four in Minnesota, you cannot place a wager.
  • Wagering on college sports is permitted only if the event is held outside of New York State and does not involve any New York colleges or universities. (For example it is legal to wager on the Rose Bowl where Michigan is playing UCLA.)
  • The Gaming Commission, on its own motion or by a petitioning party, may prevent wagering on any sporting event if it conflicts with the public interest. Petitions seeking to limit sports wagering of an event must be filed 60 days in advance.
  • A “wagering tournament” requires prior Gaming Commission approval.

General Advertising Rules

  • Advertising may not depict any person under the age of 21 engaging in sports wagering, gaming or related activities. Advertising should not be placed in programs where a majority of the audience is under 21.
  • Advertising should not include persons listed as “sports pool participants.” This would include players, coaches, trainers, owners, league employees, umpires, referees or any person who holds a position of authority or influence to exert influence over the sporting event.
  • Advertising must be based upon fact, and shall not be false, deceptive or misleading.
  • Cannot use any type, size, location, lighting, illustration, graphic depiction or color resulting in the obscuring of any material fact.
  • Advertisements must clearly and conspicuously specify and state any material conditions or limiting factors.
  • Advertisements must state the name and location of the gaming facility conducting the advertisement.
  • Each advertisement shall, clearly and conspicuously, state a problem gambling hotline number.
  • The Gaming Commission reviews advertisements. Each gaming facility provides copy of all advertisements within five business days of the advertisements public dissemination.

Problem Gambling Assistance Notifications Required in All Advertisements

  • The requirements for sports wagering are the same requirements you currently use when accepting advertising for casino gaming.
  • Advertisements shall contain a problem gambling assistance message comparable to one of the following:
    • If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available. Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369); or
    • Gambling Problem? Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369); or
    • Any other message approved in writing by the commission.

Radio

  • Advertisement must contain one of the above messages during the advertisement.

Television

  • Option 1 – Problem gambling assistance notification appears throughout the entire time the advertisement is broadcast.
    • The height of the font used for the problem gambling assistance message must be at least two percent of the height or width, whichever is greater, of the image that will be displayed.
    • Most casinos opt for this approach.
  • Option 2 – You do not run the notification throughout the entire advertisement. Once you show a scene involving gaming (table, slot machine, casino floor or sports betting) or orally mention the casinos name or gaming, you must then display the problem gambling notification in a separate dedicated screen shot.
    •  The separate dedicated screen shot must be visible for at least three seconds.
    • The height and width of the problem gambling notification screen on the dedicated screen shot must be at least eight percent of the height or width, whichever is greater, of the image that will be displayed.
    • This is a complicated option and most casinos prefer to use Option 1.

Web and Social Media

  • The problem gambling message must be posted on each web page or profile page and on any gaming-related advertisement posted on the webpage or profile page;
  • The height of the font used for the problem gambling assistance message must be at least the same size as the majority of the text used in the webpage or profile page; and
  • For advertisements posted on the webpage or profile page, the height of the font used for the problem gambling assistance message must comply with the height requirements mentioned above. (i.e, must be at least the same size as the majority of the text used in the webpage or profile page)

Again, the burden is on the casino to meet the requirements of the gaming Commission.  The New York Gaming Commission reviews all advertising after it has been broadcast. If it determines that a particular advertisement is inappropriate, then you should not run it.  Stations broadcasting sports wagering or any gaming advertisements are advised to obtain a letter from a casino stating that it is in compliance with NY Gaming Commission regulations.

The NFL has additional policies and regulations regarding advertising.  The NFL will permit stations to run general advertising for casinos during NFL games.  Stations may not broadcast advertisements relating to sports betting or sports books during NFL games.