Ohio Sports Betting Regulators Propose New Sportsbook Advertising Rule Aimed At Fanatics

Written By TJ McBride on July 8, 2024
Ohio Regulators Propose New Sportsbook Advertising Rule

After a discussion about altering sportsbook advertising rules, Ohio regulators have formally submitted a rule change proposal.

With this rule change, regulators hope to stop operators from using non-gaming transactions to advertise sports betting. The submission appears to have been directly inspired by Fanatics Sportsbook, whose parent brand is a global merchandise company.

Some hurdles remain before the rule is adopted and made official. However, regulators are clearly not wasting any time keeping the Ohio sports betting market as safe as possible.

Ohio regulators propose new rule aimed at Fanatics Sportsbook marketing practices

Ohio Casino Control Commission regulators began considering Ohio sportsbook advertising rule updates earlier this year, ramping up discussion during a June 18 meeting. Now, with a formal rule change proposal submitted, that process has taken its next step.

The rule change, known as Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3775-16-09, reads as follows:

“Sports gaming proprietors must not offer a promotion or bonus in connection with or as a result of a non-gaming, consumer transaction.”

This chapter also outlines a few caveats to this new rule. For instance, an operator would be able to ignore the rule if it complies with all other advertising requirements and if the advertisement:

  • Does not target individuals under the age of twenty-one, other individuals who are ineligible to participate in sports gaming, individuals with gambling problems, or other vulnerable individuals.
  • Is offered only to individuals who have been verified as being twenty-one years of age or older and not participating in the Ohio Voluntary Exclusion Program.

If implemented, the OCCC would require any operator offering a promotion that violates such guidelines to stop immediately.

The aim of this new rule change seems almost entirely focused on Fanatics, which recently violated two different sections of the state gaming regulations by promoting its sportsbook through its merchandising brand.

Fanatics was offering Ohio residents who made purchases via the Fanatics merchandise store bonus bets of the same value. This violates Rule 3775-16-08 because the promo was available to patrons under 21 years of age. It also violates Rule 3775-16-09 because responsible gambling measures require operators to provide opt-out options for future ads.

This new rule further clarifies how the Ohio Casino Control Commission views these different forms of advertising. Nevertheless, sports betting operators have some time before any changes become official.

Ohio sportsbooks have time before this rule becomes official

Now that the proposed Ohio sportsbook advertising rule change has been drafted and officially submitted, it will be considered in committee review before being sent back to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

The Ohio Common-Sense Initiative office and the Legislative Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review will evaluate the submission. At this point, each committee may alter the draft as it sees fit. Once both committees sign off on the rule change, the Ohio Casino Control Commission will vote one last time and provide final approval.

It seems likely that this rule change will be made official. Ohio has always been extremely forward-thinking in terms of sports betting and other gambling advertisements. Ohio regulators are also considering more expansive integrity monitoring requirements for gambling operators.

Additional integrity monitoring could soon be required for gambling operators

 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:

  •     Each operator must partner with a certified independent integrity monitor. 
  •     Each sports operator must institute procedures to monitor all sports betting activity that is deemed unusual. 
  •     Sports gaming employees hired to monitor these activities must hold a sports gaming license because of their access to data.
  •     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.”
  •     Operators may remove patrons’ personal information from the data.
  •     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.
  •     Integrity monitoring reports and all associated data are not considered public records.

Regulators plan to take those a step further by requiring enhanced integrity monitoring that seeks out and investigates any potential problems in addition to flagging potential issues. To accomplish this goal, integrity monitors would rely on whistleblowers as well as athletes to reveal any worrisome gambling practices.

Considering the record-breaking speed at which Ohio reached $10 billion in lifetime sports betting volume, staying ahead of any pitfalls in advertising or illicit gambling practices is extremely important.

Photo by Dreamstime / PlayOhio
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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.

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