Officials with the Ohio Casino Control Commission and Ohio Lottery on Oct. 31 detailed some of the safeguards and consumer protections being implemented to curtail problem gambling ahead of the Ohio sports betting launch on Jan. 1, 2023.
The discussion was hosted by the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio, part of a five-week webinar series titled, “Ready, Get Set, Go.” The series is a continuing education opportunity for Ohio professionals in problem gambling prevention and treatment featuring weekly one-hour webinars that run through Dec. 5.
Hosted by Derek Longmeier, executive director of PGNO, the Oct. 31 session was driven by a pair of speakers — William Cox, deputy general counsel of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, and Jon Dillinger, sports gaming operations manager of the Ohio Lottery Commission.
The first “Ready, Get Set, Go” session — dubbed “Get Started: Ohio’s Sports Betting Landscape” — presented an informative overview of what to expect as sports betting goes live in the new year, from the different types of licensing and sports betting venues to specific examples of responsible gambling regulations in place.
Making sure responsible gambling messaging is front and center in Ohio
Dillinger and Cox both addressed how their agencies were prioritizing responsible gambling messaging, helping to ensure it was prominent and not just small, quiet asides.
“Some of the major things that the commission has done is make sure people have the resources to help themselves (and) make sure those resources are not just small footer but actually front and center,” Cox said.
Dillinger said the Lottery Commission will be working closely with the restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses hosting sports betting kiosks to make sure that, along with having responsible gambling messaging on all signage and screens, staff members are trained on how to spot potential problem gambling behaviors. All of these businesses will have to submit responsible gambling plans annually and also make sure that any marketing and advertising plans follow the Lottery Commission’s standards.
Cox said both commissions were going to be closely watching sportsbook advertising in the state to make sure they all include responsible gaming messaging.
“If you don’t see (the RG messaging), let us know,” he told the webinar attendees. “There should be problem gambling messaging in every sports gaming ad.”
Commissions also working to initiate other Ohio consumer protection measures
Other consumer protection and responsible gambling measures discussed included:
- Strict ID-verification procedures. Making sure people are 21 or older is crucial, but the online verification process will also help in the future if the user wants to participate in Ohio’s voluntary exclusion program. Dillinger says the Lottery Commission is hoping to roll out a system built into the machines that makes the user scan their ID before they can play.
- Wager limits. For the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, the Casino Control Commission adopted an anonymous wager cap of $1,000 per bet (it initially wanted a lower amount but the operators fought back, with some even requesting a $10,000 cap, Cox said). Dillinger said bets at the betting kiosks will be limited to $700.
- Promote self-imposed user wager limits. Cox said online sports bettors must be shown how to set their own time and spending limits as soon as they open an account. “So each individual can customize their own experience, make themselves available to the level of risk they feel comfortable with,” he said.
- No advertising/marketing on college campuses. The Casino Control Commission was able to do something not a lot of other states have had success with — forbid sportsbook advertising and marketing on college campuses. Cox said it was important to them because most college students are under 21.
Responsible gambling resources spotlighted ahead of Ohio roll-out
The “Getting Started” webinar touched on responsible gambling/problem gambling topics that will be covered more in-depth in later “Ready, Get Set, Go” sessions. Future webinars include a look at Pause Before You Play, a campaign encouraging sports bettors to develop strategies for low-risk gambling ahead of time, and a deeper dive into Ohio’s statewide voluntary exclusion program.
Everyone from sportsbooks to governmental agencies have been stepping up the promotion of responsible gambling in Ohio ahead of the state’s 2023 sports betting launch.
The Lottery Commission and Casino Control Commission collaborate with the Ohio State Racing Commission and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services on the Ohio for Responsible Gambling initiative, which offers numerous tips and resources online to help both avoid problem gambling and get help if needed.
The Lottery Commission and Casino Control Commission also have robust responsible gaming sections on their websites.