Good News, Bad News Involving Ohio Sports Betting
Legal sports betting has gotten off to a great start financially in Ohio. Matt Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the state’s gambling regulatory body, told commissioners during a mid-January meeting in Columbus that the state has received $39.4 million in licensing fees from sports betting companies and their Ohio partners since the New Year’s Day launch of legal sports betting in Ohio.
Nearly 20 online operators and 13 physical sports books had been approved to operate in the state and there were about 700 sports betting kiosks at lottery retailers in Ohio, the fourth-largest state to legalize sports betting.
For some sports betting operators in Ohio, the launch of legal sports betting in the Buckeye State has been anything but smooth. Caesars Sportsbook was fined $150,000 by the OCCC for violating the state’s sports betting advertising rules. Caesars Sportsbook ads did not have “conspicuous messaging” that promoted responsible gambling, and they did not have a gambling problem hotline, the OCCC ruled. DraftKings and BetMGM are each facing a $150,000 fine for similar advertising violations.
She Praised Caesars
Caesars Sportsbook declined a hearing about its advertising violations. Eric Hession, Caesars Digital president, said the violations were committed by a company that was promoting Caesars’sports betting app.
The company’s national agreement with Caesars was terminated. Even though the OCCC approved the fine, OCCC chair June Taylor praised Caesars for admitting the violations and responding appropriately to them. “The fact that your organization terminated this affiliated relationship not only speaks volumes about your values, philosophy and leadership, but I think for us, it’s a model of compliance,” she said.
The latest violations weren’t the first violations spotted by the OCCC. The others happened before New Year’s Day, the day sports betting in Ohio became legal. DraftKings faces a potential $350,000 fine for sending promotional mailers to Ohio residents under age 21, the minimum age to place a sports bet in the state. Penn Sports Interactive faces a potential $250,000 fine for promoting sports betting on a college campus in November during an event prior to a University of Toledo football game.
The state law that legalized sports betting in Ohio gives preference to the state’s professional sports teams, casinos and racinos to get licenses, but other places like the Hall of Fame Village in Canton also have been licensed.
Lifetime Ban Threatened
In related news involving the OCCC, Schuler said he will issue a lifetime ban to any sports bettor in the state who publicly criticizes college athletes if their play affects a bet. Schuler made his remarks after University of Dayton basketball coach Anthony Grant made reference to members of his team who were threatened on social media after a loss in a game that Dayton led by 14 points at halftime.