New York’s attorney general has issued an alert to players warning of “deceptive online sports-betting companies” offering misleading promotions in advance of Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.
Attorney general Letitia James said in a consumer alert Thursday (February 10) that since New York’s online sportsbooks launched, the state has been “bombarded with misleading ads” touting risk-free bets and deposit bonuses, which she said “sound like free money, but often come with strings attached without consumers’ awareness."
“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,” James said in the statement.
“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.”
James also warned companies to avoid those misleading advertising practices, in one of the strongest messages aimed at regulated sports-betting companies from a state law enforcement official since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) almost four years ago.
“Online sports-betting companies that fumble their advertising to mislead New Yorkers can expect to hear from my office.”
In the alert, she urged players to research consumer reviews about sportsbook operators on sites such as Better Business Bureau and Trust Pilot, while avoiding reviews on those connected to the sports-betting industry, such as affiliates.
She also urged reading the fine print on bonuses to understand play-through requirements associated with bonuses, without specifying any companies by name.
“One platform advertises enrollment bonuses up to $1,000, but to actually receive that much, users have to play through $25,000,” the alert reads.
“Be aware that not all bets count toward accessing promotions. One platform excludes bets 'placed at tournaments … or at play money areas' from counting toward some promotions, and other platforms have even more conditions.”
It also cautioned that gamblers may be “penalized for acting strategically.”
“Many users sign up for gambling platforms because they want to take advantage of a good deal — the advertised bonus — without spending too much money. It’s a common way to shop, and most regular businesses accept the behavior (like a local bakery that leaves out free samples),” the warning reads.
“But at least one gambling platform treats 'exploiting bonuses' as an offense,” it continues. “It has a long list of activities it considers suspicious, and if you engage in them, it may prevent users from cashing out account funds and/or withhold any winnings derived from the gambler's use of the bonus.”
Finally, James warned that companies will restrict activity without warning for “seeming to have an unfair advantage or irregular playing patterns,” pointing to the practice of hedging bets as an example.
“Online gamblers might see them recommended by someone online,” the alert reads. “At least one platform treats hedging as a violation of its policies, and it will block users from withdrawing their funds as a penalty."
“Users report battling red tape or simply being ignored when they want to withdraw funds from their account — even if the funds are just their original deposit, with no winnings or bonuses involved.”
New York has seven online sportsbooks in operation, with the first launching in early January.
Since its launch, the state immediately emerged as the highest-volume sports-betting state in the U.S, with more than $1.6bn in betting handle in the abbreviated month following launch.