New rules ban gambling ads from under-21s, and ads can no longer use the term “risk-free” to describe betting promotions.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The U.S. gambling industry is adopting a new responsible marketing code that prohibits sportsbooks from working with colleges to promote sports betting, bans payments to college athletes and fans to use their name, image or likeness, and ends the use of the terms “free” or “risk-free” to describe advertising rates.

The American Gaming Association told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the changes are needed to keep up with the growth of the legal sports betting industry, which currently operates in 33 states as well as Washington, D.C. The group is the national trade association of the commercial gambling industry.

But they also go criticism of the gambling industry from regulatory authorities and those who treat gambling addiction; several states prohibit betting partnerships covered by the code, while others are taking a new look at general sports betting advertising.

One New York congressman has introduced legislation to ban all online and digital sports betting advertising.

“It’s always been important to get sports betting right,” said Bill Miller, the association’s president and CEO. “Creating a high bar for responsible advertising and consumer protection has always been our primary interest.”

He also admitted updated code takes into account that “the industry has taken some hits”. But he said the association’s goal has always been to proactively update its marketing code; from now on, the association will review it annually.

Keith White, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, praised the new rules.

“The AGA Code is an important standard for the gambling industry and we are delighted to hear about these updates,” he said. “The code is very important because many sports fans are minors and we also know that people who play sports have higher rates problem gambling.”

The new rules, agreed to by all association members, also require anyone pictured in a sports betting ad to be at least 21 years old. They also restrict advertising to media in which at least 73.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.

Although the new rules take effect immediately, companies that already have ad campaigns that will be affected will be allowed to continue doing so until July 1.

There are five partnerships between the gambling industry and colleges that promote or advertise sports betting.

They include a deal between Michigan State University and Caesars Entertainment and a deal between Caesars and Louisiana State University that resulted in the university sending out emails to students — including some who were too young to legally place bets — encouraging them to “make your first bet (and earn) your first bonus).”

The University of Colorado at Boulder’s 2020 deal with PointsBet sportsbook included a $30 bonus every time someone signed up to PointsBet with the university’s promo code and placed a bet. In January, the university referral bonuses are over but the larger deal remains in place.

PointsBet also has a deal with Maryland and Superbook has a deal with the University of Denver.

Individual states move on to what the association does on its own.

The New York State Gaming Commission in February adopted rules that prohibit advertising to anyone under 21 and prohibit the use of terms such as “free” or “no risk” in promotions — something most major sportsbooks have already done independently.

Ohio recently fined three sportsbooks for using such terminology, and Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are among the states that have also banned its use. Ohio also fined DraftKings for sending direct mail ads to people under 21.

New Jersey is considering a bill to ban sports books from partnering with public colleges or universities, as well as a bill that would “condemn the excessive distribution of gambling advertising in New Jersey.”

U.S. Representative Paul Tonka, D-New York, has introduced a bill that would ban online and digital sports betting advertising.

“In the years since the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, this unlimited advertising has become insane, with betting companies pouring billions to ensure access to every screen across America,” he said. “Congress must take the necessary steps to grow the industry.” with the right to do real, widespread harm to the American people.”

And on Monday, U.S. Sen. Rick Hard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, wrote to 66 colleges and universities asking for information about their efforts to partner with sports books, prevent underage student gambling and treat gambling addictions.

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