Ohio Seeks Fines Against DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM For Advertising Violations

Written By Steve Schult on January 5, 2023 - Last Updated on April 28, 2023
violation of ohio sports betting operations

The Ohio Casino Control Commission announced Thursday that it is seeking six-figure fines against three major Ohio sportsbooks.

Just days after the launch of legal sports betting in Ohio, the state’s regulatory body said BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook and DraftKings all violated rules surrounding advertising and promotion. As a result, the commission is seeking to fine each company $150,000. This would be the second fine for DraftKings around the Ohio launch, which if incurred, would cost the company a total of $500,000.

Additionally, the commission wants remedial action taken to ensure that employees of the company don’t repeat these errors.

Sportsbook advertisements lacked required messaging   

Under Ohio sports betting rules and regulations, sports betting operators must clearly display responsible gambling messaging in their advertising. Operators must also display a problem gambling helpline in those ads.

On Dec. 30, just two days before the state launched its new market, the commission addressed operators directly regarding compliance in their upcoming ads.

But BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings all allegedly ran ads that failed to adhere to these requirements.

In a press release, OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler said operators broke the rule multiple times.

“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law,” said Schuler. “These repeated violations leave the Commission no choice but to pursue administrative action to bring operators into compliance. The Commission takes responsible gambling seriously — and expects the industry to value the same.”

Ohio sportsbooks used prohibited terms in ads

Aside from the lack of responsible gambling messaging, the operators also used inappropriate language in their promotional material.

According to the press release, the operators used the terms “free” or “risk-free” when describing promotions available to new customers. However, these promotions required potential customers to risk their own money and possibly incur a financial loss.

Under the rules and regulations surrounding the new industry, these terms are prohibited in advertising material.

Operators have a chance to appeal

The six-figure fine isn’t final just yet. Operators have a right to a hearing, and the commission will vote on the issue during a public hearing.

If the fines are levied, the money will go into the Sports Gaming Revenue Fund.

Ohio governor warned sportsbooks this week

Earlier this week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during a press conference that the state is keeping a close eye on sportsbooks and their advertising and promotional activities in Ohio.

DeWine said said there had been “several” occurrences of sportsbooks not following the law when it comes to advertising and promotional offers.

“The companies that are doing the massive advertising need to be aware that they’re being looked at very closely by the governor and the Casino Control Commission in regard to statements that they are making,” DeWine said.

DeWine didn’t mention any specific sportsbooks, but his comments came less than a week after the OCCC issued a notice of violation to DraftKings Sportsbook for mailing advertisements to individuals under 21. The sportsbook could be subject to a $350,000 fine for that alleged infraction.

The OCCC has also issued a notice of violation to Barstool Sportsbook‘s parent company, PENN Entertainment, for doing promotions on or near college campuses and targeting people under 21.

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Steve Schult

Steve Schult is a veteran of the gambling world. The New York native got his start covering high-stakes poker tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets. He eventually added the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018. Schult is the Managing Editor of PlayFL, but contributes to other Catena Media sites as well.

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