Ohio Regulators Discuss New Sportsbook Advertising Restrictions, Enhanced Integrity Monitoring

Written By TJ McBride on June 26, 2024
Ohio Sportsbook Advertising Rule Updates

Ohio is taking additional steps to regulate where and to whom sportsbook operators can advertise gambling products and offer promotions.  Regulators worry that well-established brands like Fanatics could use their non-gambling platforms to advertise their sportsbooks to customers.

Rules surrounding Ohio sportsbook advertising, promotions, and responsible gambling have been a priority in the Buckeye State, and this is more evidence of that focus. To that end, Ohio regulators also intend to introduce enhanced integrity monitoring protocol in the near future.

Ohio regulators look to implement new sportsbook advertising rules

The Ohio Casino Control Commission met on Tuesday, June 18, using the time to redefine a large chunk of the state’s advertising and promotional rules.

The Commission raised concern over operators using a non-gambling arm of their brand to reach potential gambling customers. Since, these promotions could unknowingly target people under 21 or individuals on a self-exclusion list, the OCCC moved to ban such marketing.

These new advertising rules seem directly related to Fanatics’ emergence into the sports betting market. Fanatics did not set out to be a gambling operator. Since its creation in 1995, it has operated primarily in merchandise for sportswear. Only in the last year or so has the company decided to enter the gaming space.

As a result, Fanatics has the unique opportunity to utilize its massive merchandising reach to advertise its sports betting platform. Ohio regulators have an issue with that, though, taking swift measures to disallow that method.

 The Ohio Casino Control Commission’s approval is the first step in making those changes official.

Steps remain before sportsbook advertising rule changes become official

Now that the Ohio Casino Control Commission has initiated the process, a committee review must come next.

Each regulation update must gain approval in the Ohio Common-Sense Initiative office and the Legislative Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. Then, the rules would be sent back to the Ohio Casino Control Commission for a final vote and an official stamp of approval.

Ohio has traditionally been proactive in limiting the amount of advertising its residents see. Given its history, these rules will likely have no trouble seeing a quick, speedy adoption.

OCCC wants to enhance integrity monitoring regulations

The Ohio Casino Control Commission is also exploring the possibility of expanding its integrity monitoring regulations for operators. While integrity monitoring rules do already exist, Ohio regulators feel these rules should be more stringent.

Currently, Ohio sports betting operators must adhere to seven such regulations:

  1.       Each operator must partner with a certified independent integrity monitor. 
  2.       Each sports operator must institute procedures to monitor all sports betting activity that is deemed unusual. 
  3.       Sports gaming employees hired to monitor these activities must hold a sports gaming license because of their access to data.
  4.       Operators must provide data for unusual activity when requested by their contracted certified independent integrity monitor. The data is to be given “as soon as practically possible.”
  5.       Operators may remove patrons’ personal information from the data.
  6.       Operators must suspend any bets related to a report of suspicious betting activity, and no bets may be canceled without approval from the executive director.
  7.       Integrity monitoring reports and all associated data are not considered public records.

Addressing sports betting safety concerns protects Ohio bettors & athletes

Ohio regulators want to take those rules a step further. As integrity monitoring regulations read now, providers must simply flag suspicious gaming activity rather than pursue potential issues preemptively. The proposed updates would change that. 

The adjusted rule states that independent integrity monitors would investigate and analyze information to find unusual betting patterns instead of merely flagging issues. In order to find leads on such practices, it appears the Ohio Casino Control Commission would rely on whistleblowers to help identify safety concerns.

There is also talk of how to allow athletes to anonymously report any concerns they perceive. In addition to regulating advertising and promotional rules, Ohio regulators have the power to ban sports bettors who threaten athletes. 

So for Ohio — officially the fastest state to reach $10 billion in lifetime sports betting handle — these matters are especially paramount to the overall well-being of the public.

Photo by Dreamstime / PlayOhio
TJ McBride Avatar
Written by
TJ McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based writer and reporter who covers sports betting for PlayOhio. His work has been featured on ESPN, CBS Sports, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report and Yahoo Sports, among others.

View all posts by TJ McBride