The Proposed NJ Gambling Advertising Bill Would Formalize Deceptive Marketing Rules

New Jersey is on the verge of yet another sports betting regulation reform. Just recently, State Senator Joe Cryan introduced a proposed piece of legislation, S4021, that saw regulations put in place by the state Department of Gambling and Enforcement (DGE) regarding ads from online casinos and sportsbooks.

Bill S4021 aims to crack down on the deceptive advertising practices from online casino sites, as well as sportsbooks in New Jersey. State senator Joe Cryan has always been a huge advocate for responsible gambling practices and has introduced similar legislation aimed at safeguarding gamblers’ wellbeing.

Cryan’s latest proposed bill, S4021, is looking to formalize rules that the DGE has already implemented all over the state. The point is to ensure that online casino and sportsbook ads adhere to laid-out guidelines. 

The proposed bill S4021 includes 2 provisions:

Provision 1:

 The first pertains to gambling-related ads by casino licensees and their associated operators. This first provision stipulates that advertisements should not be targeted at individuals on the self-exclusion list. The self-exclusion list was created to assist people with gambling problems.

A self-exclusion list is a vital tool that was designed to help people with problem gambling regain control over their gambling behavior. The tool provides an option for such individuals to voluntarily exclude themselves from taking part in betting-related activities from online casinos, as well as brick-and-mortar establishments.

The self-exclusion program typically involves punters voluntarily signing up for the program. When they sign up, these individuals agree to be barred from entering on engaging in any betting activities whether online or offline. The period of exclusion can vary, which allows people to choose their preferred timeframes based on their needs.

During the self-exclusion period, punters are supposed to refrain from betting, which is one of the best ways to protect people who recognize that their betting habits gave gone overboard. When they join the self-exclusion list, they effectively eliminate temptation and any further opportunity to engage in betting activities.

Exposing people on the self-exclusion list to gambling advertisements jeopardizes the effectiveness of these programs and undermines all efforts to assist people suffering from problem gambling. Gambling ads can be triggering as they are designed to entice and attract people to participate in the very betting activities they are trying to avoid.

Seeing gambling ads can also cause emotional distress, bringing up frustrations and negative emotions that can be detrimental to people on the self-exclusion list. These individuals are already struggling with the extent and consequences of their behavior. As such, exposure to gambling ads will likely intensify feelings of guilt, shame, and regret thus hindering their progress towards recovery.

Provision 2:

The second provision emphasizes that gambling ads should not be deceptive or fraudulent. Additionally, they should not target individuals under the legal age to wager. Sometimes gambling advertisers push the boundaries of ethical advertising by making exaggerated claims about the possible returns of participating in their offers.

Advertisers may use persuasive techniques to entice vulnerable people, including those that may be experiencing financial difficulties or looking for a quick financial fix. These deceptive marketing practices not only exploit the susceptibility of these individuals but also undermines the integrity of the gambling sector in general.

This provision that gambling ads should not be deceptive or fraudulent is essential in protecting people and maintaining trust in the industry. By setting standards that ensure that gambling ads provide accurate and transparent information at all times, people can make informed decisions about their participation in these activities.

Plus, targeting people under the age of 21 is a huge concern as far as gambling ads are concerned. Young people are especially susceptible to the influence of these ads and are generally very easily swayed by the promises of massive returns, as well as the glamorization of betting.

Advertisers must uphold responsible betting practices and strictly adhere to regulations that prevent minors from being targeted. By doing so, advertisers can play their part and contribute to the ongoing effort to prevent underage betting. 

If passed, Senator Cryan’s proposed legislation will no doubt have a significant impact on the online gambling industry in the Garden State. By formalizing the rules associated with gambling ads, this legislation will create a strong and clear framework for operators to follow. The new law will ensure that ads are responsible and not designed to exploit vulnerable gamblers.

Existing Efforts from the government 

The introduction of the proposed bill comes in response to ongoing efforts by the Attorney General’s office and the DGE to safeguard the well-being of gamblers in the state while boosting advertising standards.

Earlier this year in April, the state announced plans to hire a responsible betting “czar” to oversee the issue at a senior level. This newly created position of the statewide responsible gaming coordinator will see issues regarding responsible gaming and associated initiatives handled.

This position will be filled by an attorney that will report directly to the DGE Director. The coordinator will be in charge of identifying gaps and problems, as well as developing recommendations to advance New Jersey’s responsible gambling work. By establishing a dedicated, senior-level position within the DGE ranks to focus on responsible gambling, the state is sending a message that it takes the issue seriously.

In conjunction with this announcement, the DGE issued a 15-point plan to enhance advertising standards in the market. The 15-point plan includes measures such as prohibiting the use of common triggering marketing phrases such as risk-free, as well as limiting the exposure of these advertisements to people under the age of 21.

Final Thoughts

Senator Joe Cryan’s proposed legislation, S4021, is looking to validate rules already in place by the DGE surrounding online casino and sportsbook advertising. By setting up strict guidelines that prohibit deceptive ads and target vulnerable people, the bill is looking to enhance a clear legal framework for operators while helping to protect problem gamblers and underage individuals from harmful marketing practices.

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