New Jersey advances bill to restrict gambling advertising

On Monday, a New Jersey General Assembly committee advanced a bill prohibiting the over-proliferation of gambling advertisements in the state.

Assembly Resolution 168, sponsored by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), follows the ongoing trend in the United States to reduce sports betting advertising and marketing drastically. It was passed without discussion and was among several pieces of legislation with ties to responsible gambling and advertising reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts.

Caputo is the chair of the committee and has been a long-time supporter of gambling in New Jersey. During the Monday meeting, he claimed that the gambling ads were doing very little in the way of helping residents of New Jersey and were simply the result of a “thirst for revenue” from gambling operators.

“We all voted for these things, but at this point, there’s some negative impact of some of the things that we did do, and we’re trying to pull it back a little bit,” he said.

Caputo disclosed that he introduced the new legislation to combat gambling addiction, which he called an “unintended consequence” of the activity. He asserted that the struggle for revenue by online sportsbooks was getting out of hand and to the detriment of the public.

Assembly Resolution 168 will prohibit advertising sports betting in New Jersey public universities and colleges and organize a gambling treatment diversion court program. It will also ensure that school districts include the dangers of compulsive gambling in their health curriculum.

Assemblyman Don Guardian (R-Atlantic) voted against the bill, as did two other Republicans on the panel. According to him, sports and internet gaming are currently in their infancy, and advertising is the “only way” for them to grow.

“The only way that they expand is to advertise, and the more advertising they do, the better they do. So I can’t be hypocritical if, as a state, we’re so excited about having internet and sports gaming and collecting 200-plus million dollars in taxes just on those two types of gaming, and then say no, the one way that you can’t promote it is to advertise,” Guardian said.

Per recent reports from the National Center on Problem Gambling, despite the legal gambling age in New Jersey being 21, several significantly younger individuals have been recorded placing bets. Data also revealed that 6% of youths aged 12 to 17 involved in gambling already had a gambling problem, and around 14% were on the verge of cultivating an addiction to the activity.

Caputo revealed that the gaming companies marketing their products to mostly young people was a major reason his bill was centered on minors.

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