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Connecticut bill outlines stringent ad guidelines, some betting on local colleges

| By Jill R. Dorson
A bill filed in Connecticut earlier this month could change the face of sports betting and igaming in the state. Introduced by the Public Safety and Security Committee, the bill would limit wagering advertising and allow betting on Connecticut college teams in some cases, among other changes.
Connecticut Fanatics

In May 2021 Connecticut lawmakers legalised digital and retail sports betting, daily fantasy sports and online gambling. The latest bill, File No 271 (substitute for HB 5284), has gotten little attention, but follows several emerging industry trends. HB 271 would lay down stringent ad guidelines similar to those in place in Ontario, Maine and Massachusetts. It would:

  • – Ban the use of celebrities in advertising;
  • – Require 21+ (or 18+ in some cases) to be used on advertising;
  • – Prohibit sports betting advertisements where the “majority of the viewers or participants is presumed to be under the age of 21” and;
  • – Ban the use of advertisements or marketing via media or social media that would “appeal primarily” to those under the legal age to gamble.

Connecticut law sets the legal age for sports betting and igaming at 21. The legal age for daily fantasy contests, lottery and keno is 18. Other states are also considering more stringent ad guidelines.

Some affiliate deals at risk?

The bill touches many aspects of legal gambling and appears to also prohibit the use of certain kinds of affiliate marketing deals. The text of the bill reads that licensees cannot contract with third-party advertisers or marketers whose “compensation is dependent on, or related to, the volume of individuals who become patrons, the volume or amount of wagers placed or the outcome of wagers”.

Massachusetts regulators last year changed their rules to ban revenue-share affiliate agreements, but do allow “cost per action” agreements.

As the NCAA has been making a call to ban prop bets on college players, Connecticut lawmakers added language in the bill to explicitly ban college-player prop bets. But the bill would open up betting on local college teams.

The current law does not allow for betting on Connecticut college teams under any circumstance. The UConn Huskies have won back-to-back national championships in men’s basketball and are perennial contenders on the women’s side. The latest legislation would allow for wagering on local college teams in some instances. Every state bordering Connecticut offers online betting on Connecticut college teams.

Local college betting could be confusing

The legislation takes a page from neighbouring Massachusetts’ book and would allow wagering on Connecticut college teams that are playing in tournaments. From the proposed legislation:

As used in this subdivision, “permitted intercollegiate tournament” means an intercollegiate esports, sporting or athletic event involving four or more intercollegiate teams that involves one or more Connecticut intercollegiate teams and the wager on the tournament is based on the
outcome of all games within the tournament.

Similar parameters in Massachusetts have caused some issues for operators who have mistakenly opened betting on local-college team markets in circumstances where it was not allowed.

The legislation also touches on parameters around independent gaming labs used by operators. It would also ban the use of “confusing” or “misleading” language in advertising and marketing.

Connecticut’s general assembly is in session until 8 May. The substitute bill has moved through committee and onto the house floor.

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