The American Gaming Association has written an open letter to the Maine Gambling Control Unit in a bid to see the states’ sports betting advertising requirements relaxed, leaning largely on the ’empowerment of illegal sportsbooks’ as the reason.

The proposed rules from the Maine Gambling Control Unit are acknowledged industry-wide as the strictest gambling advertising regulations. The legislation dictates that all operators must provide electronic copies of all advertising, marketing and promotional materials to the Director of the MGCU at least ten days prior to publication, distribution or airing to the public.

In addition, television advertising for Maine sports betting can only take place during an event, and only on the channel that the event is being broadcast when wagers on that event are offered by a licensed operator in Maine. In addition, all promotions and bonuses can not be advertised on television but are instead restricted to the specific mobile app.

Bill Miller, CEO of the AGA wrote:

“The AGA urges the Maine Gambling Control Unit to remove the restrictions on advertising contained in the proposed regulations, which – if adopted – will undermine a critical tool that the legal industry uses to inform the public about licensed operators, further empower illegal sportsbooks, and limit the success of the legal market in Maine.”

He continued: “As Maine has recognized, legal sports betting enhances consumer protections and helps promote transparency and game integrity, while also supporting job growth and generating tax revenue. However, to realize these benefits, it is important to avoid policy decisions that – even if well-intended – will ultimately undermine the ability of the regulated marketplace to compete against illegal sportsbook operators.

“Legal sportsbook advertising has an essential role in drawing bettors away from the predatory illegal market to the protections of the legal, regulated market,” Miller added. “Particularly in new markets, advertising helps to inform the public about which sportsbooks are legal, as well as to ensure customers receive responsible gaming messages.

“Placing broad and overly burdensome restrictions on legal sportsbook advertising will only exacerbate the competitive advantages enjoyed by illegal operators and hamper efforts to effectively draw customers into the regulated market.”

Rep. Tonko has filed a federal level bill proposing to ban all sports betting advertising, while New York sports betting advertising was just altered after the latest bill passed. The AGA recently published comment on Tonko’s federal proposition, the ‘Betting on our Future Act’, too.

Miller concluded: “From the start, our industry’s top priority has been getting sports betting right and that includes advertising. The AGA’s Responsible Marketing Code on Sports Wagering sets a high standard for operators by prohibiting targeting underage and vulnerable populations and mandates the inclusion of responsible gambling resources. It also provides a means for any member of the public to file a complaint to ensure compliance with the code. Statutory and regulatory restrictions or bans will only impede the ability to inform consumers about the availability of legal sportsbooks and the tenets of responsible gaming, and strengthen the competitive advantage enjoyed by illegal betting operations.”