Ohio Regulators Intend To Deny PlayUp Sports Betting License Over ‘Illegal Gambling’

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Ohio sports betting

The Ohio Casino Control Commission issued a notice of intent to deny a mobile Ohio sports betting license to PlayUp, Executive Director Matt Schuler said Wednesday.

Schuler said potential illegal gambling activity by PlayUp was discovered during the licensing suitability process. The notice was accompanied by a cease and desist to both PlayUp and technology partner Potent Games.

PlayUp requested a hearing on the matter after which the commission will vote on potential action. Christian Goode, CEO of the SPAC in talks to take PlayUp public, had no comment when reached by LSR.

PlayUp was not the only hopeful Ohio sports betting operator to get bad news Wednesday. PENN Entertainment‘s Barstool Sportsbook was notified of a potential $250,000 fine for alleged violations of the commission’s rules against advertising at Ohio colleges and advertising to people under 21.

Details on PlayUp, Barstool issues

There were three specific alleged issues with PlayUp, according to the notice sent to the company provided by the OCCC:

  1. PlayUp has one or more disqualifying violations of accepting illegal wagers from individuals in the US after April 16, 2015, through its slots+ product.
  2. Violations of conducting, participating in the conduct, or facilitating the conduct of the slots+ product in Ohio or through affiliates. That includes sports betting, games of chance and casino gaming.
  3. Engaging in false, deceptive, misleading, or otherwise impermissible advertising by advertising the slots+ product as legal in Ohio.

Barstool, meanwhile, advertised the Barstool Sportsbook and its pre-registration promos during the Barstool College Football Show that was either “on, or targeting the area of,” the University of Toledo‘s campus on Nov. 15. The same show also targeted persons under the age of 21 by encouraging the audience to take advantage of the promotions.

Bad timing for Barstool Ohio violation

The alleged violation by Barstool sounds like what some commissioners with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission are worried about:

I also want to emphasize as we head in toward our universal start date that all applicants and eventual licensees must comply with the law,” Schuler said. “Unfortunately, staff was compelled to issue a notice of violation to Penn Sports Interactive, doing business as Barstool Sportsbook, for alleged violations of the commission’s rules against advertising on or targeting the area of an Ohio college or university campus as well as its rule against targeting individuals under the age of 21.”

Like PlayUp, the OCCC will eventually vote on any final action to be taken against PENN. Schuler did not say if PENN requested a hearing, though he noted it is entitled to one.

Barstool already has been granted conditional approval by the OCCC.

PlayUp going public hits a snag

This potential denial in Ohio might not even be the biggest news concerning PlayUp this month.

IG Acquisition Corp and PlayUp entered an amended agreement that says neither company is exclusively bound to negotiate with each other, according to an 8K issued last week.

IGAC said there has been a delay in getting audited financial results from PlayUp and also noted difficulty to secure financing in current market conditions.

Either company is now free to find other partners. A proposed combination with either company and a new third-party partner would immediately end the acquisition talks between PlayUp and IGAC.

Four Ohio sports betting operators approved

There were four more sports betting operators approved for a Jan. 1 launch at Wednesday’s meeting, pushing conditionally approved mobile sportsbooks to 20:

Lori’s Roadhouse and J&J Ventures Gaming of Ohio received Type B and Type C proprietor licenses, respectively. The most recent licensing update from the OCCC as of Nov. 16 does not list a supplier for Lori’s Roadhouse.