New York Attorney General Warns Of ‘Deceptive’ Practices By State’s Sportsbooks

Letitia James threatens increased scrutiny of sports betting operators
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On Thursday, New York’s attorney general issued a statement warning New Yorkers of “deceptive online sports betting companies” in the run-up to Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“I urge all New Yorkers watching the Super Bowl and betting online for the first time to be careful — don’t let scammers game your gamble,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Before placing a bet, do your research into the platform, read the fine print of the offer, and follow our other tips to avoid any red flags and keep the odds in your favor. Online sports betting companies that fumble their advertising to mislead New Yorkers can expect to hear from my office.”

James noted that promotions such as “risk-free” bets and welcome offers often come with disclaimers that gamblers can miss if they don’t read the fine print. She also urged would-be bettors to read reviews of the sportsbook operators on sites such as the Better Business Bureau and Trust Pilot.

The American Gaming Association has estimated that 31.4 million Americans will bet a total of $7.61 billion on Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals. New York has quickly become the sports-betting capital of the U.S., racking up $1.65 billion in handle in January, shattering the monthly record previously held by New Jersey. Of that total, $1.61 billion was bet on mobile sports apps.

AG spotlights user complaints

James warned consumers not to trust reviews from “sites that may be connected to the sports betting industry.” (Full disclosure: NY Online Gambling has affiliate marketing deals with certain regulated sportsbooks.)

New York has seven sportsbook operators – Caesars, BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and WynnBET – currently taking bets in the state. Two more operators, Bally’s and Resorts World, are planning to launch online operations in New York after the Super Bowl, the biggest date on the gambling calendar in the U.S. Caesars, in particular, has dealt with copious complaints about its technical platform, which crashed twice on Jan. 8, when mobile betting debuted in New York, and has continued to prompt users to complain about its useability.

James said that betting operators sometimes require users to gamble their own money before accessing bonuses, noting that one promotion offered a $1,000 bonus, but only after bettors had played through $25,000. She also pointed out that not all bets count toward promotions and that “risk-free” bets sometimes pay the bettor back in credits rather than cash.

The AG went on to note that the betting platforms have the right to restrict a user’s activity without warning, including if they think the bettor has an “unfair advantage” or has displayed “irregular playing patterns.” She said users have posted complaints online about their accounts being frozen when they’re doing well or when they’re trying to withdraw earnings, and decried limits on bettors’ ability to hedge their wagers.

Problem gambling concerns mounting

The rush of sports betting activity in New York has prompted some concerned responses of late, including from Jim Maney, executive director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, who pointed out at a recent conference that New Yorkers lost $113 million in the first 23 days of legal online sports gambling.

New York has a $6 million program to address problem gambling, funded by tax dollars from the industry, with regional offices throughout the state. The state’s 51% tax rate on gross gambling revenue of online sportsbook operators is the highest in the country and netted New York $61.2 million in revenue in January alone.

New Yorkers seeking help with a potential gambling problem can call (929) 955-3061.

Photo: Mark Vergari/USA TODAY

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