Ohio Regulators Stress Responsible Gaming In Memo To Sportsbooks

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Ohio sports betting responsible gambling
Credit: Nick Wass / The Associated Press

Ohio sports betting regulators are cracking down on advertising restrictions and emphasizing responsible gaming with legal sports betting set to launch Jan. 1

The Ohio Gaming Control Commission stressed in a recent memo that “all operators immediately review their advertising materials and ensure that all materials include an RG message and that the RG message is conspicuous.” 

Particularly, the regulators flagged messaging that was aimed at persons under 21.

“We understand mistakes happen, but it is not a mistake when it appears to be this consistent,” the OCCC wrote. 

OCCC wants to protect consumers

The OCCC has made no secret of its intent to protect consumers from harmful advertising. 

“We do have a very specific advertising rule that outlines advertisements are expected to be responsible and not target those underage,” OCCC general counsel Andromeda Morrison had told LSR from the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference in Las Vegas

“Ohio does have specific prohibition on advertising on — or targeting — college campuses as part of that responsibility. We will be taking a look at advertisements to make sure that they adhere to the regulations that the commission has adopted.” 

Barstool fined in Ohio

The OCCC levied a $250,000 fine on Barstool Sportsbook over violating its regulations in November, when the sportsbook promoted its upcoming launch in the state during a live show at the University of Toledo

“That’s on us,” Penn Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden said. “The mistake that was made in Ohio, we should have reviewed with Ohio regulators what our plan was that day. We were not there to promote the sportsbook, we were not there to promote betting.” 

Ohio sports betting promo regulations

The OCCC is also cracking down on misleading promotional rhetoric. 

“If something is claiming to be free or risk-free, then it has to absolutely not require the patron to incur any loss or risk their own money,” OCCC executive director Matthew Schuler told the Washington Post

“We are not supportive of trying to put the truth in small print.” 

Schuler added to the Post: “We’ve benefited from conversations with our colleagues in other states who told us, ‘If we could go back, we would have changed this.’”

Sports betting industry under scrutiny

Stricter advertising and promotional regulations for Ohio sports betting come at a time when the sports betting industry has come under criticism. 

In New York, one legislator introduced a vague bill amendment that seeks to stop he sees as “predatory” practices in sports betting. It directs the NYS Gaming Commission to promulgate rules and regulations regarding sportsbook bonuses in online sports betting.

The amendment came after a series of articles from the New York Times