The Ohio Casino Control Commission sent three sports wagering operators — BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and DraftKings — notices of violations carrying potential $150,000 fines for each, it announced Thursday.
Each of the sports betting operators has the right to a hearing with the OCCC concerning its concerns that their marketing efforts have failed to give sufficient attention to responsible gambling concerns.
The violation is DraftKings’ second announced penalty in Ohio in the last week, as the OCCC previously issued it a notice of violation for sending advertisements to individuals under the age of 21. That violation came with an attached penalty of $350,000. That violation occurred in November but wasn’t announced until late December, just prior to the launch of legal sports betting in the state on Jan. 1.
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PENN Entertainment/Barstool Sportsbook was another major operator to receive a notable penalty in Ohio. Last month, it was announced that the operator would receive a penalty of $250,000 for sharing a pre-registration promotional code during a live broadcast of the Barstool Sports college football show on the University of Toledo’s campus.
The violation prompted the OCCC to reach out to stakeholders about the need to pay closer attention to responsible gambling, although their efforts continue to be a concern. Given the volume of violations, it seems some major operators are struggling to adjust their marketing materials in a timeframe that satisfies OCCC guidelines and helps them avoid financial penalties.
Advertising again the culprit
The OCCC’s recent memo to operators and other stakeholders called for an improved commitment to responsible gambling in marketing materials. The OCCC deemed that the three operators receiving violations this week fell short of those responsible gambling standards, including some that were stressed in late December.
Specifically, in recent days the three operators or their affiliate marketers failed to “clearly and conspicuously contain a message designed to prevent problem gambling as well as a helpline number to help access resources.”
The operators also ran promotions described as “free” or “risk free” even though the promotions required users to spend money to take advantage of the offer. The promotions weren’t truly “risk free” in the eyes of the OCCC.
“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law,” Matthew Schuler, the OCCC’s executive director, said in a press release. “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.”