Could Ohio Sports Betting Rules Change Sportsbook Ads Nationwide?

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Ohio sports betting

Ohio regulators are not taking lightly the rules established for sports betting advertisements, which could affect the broader industry nationwide.

So far, regulators notified BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings of violations in their ads days after the market launched. Each faces a potential fine of $150,000, which conceivably could be viewed by companies as a cost of doing business.

According to comments from Ohio Casino Control Commission spokesperson on Tuesday, though, licensed Ohio sportsbooks better get on the right side of the rules or face more violations:

“Staff continues to be vigilant regarding sports gaming advertisements and promotions, and will take administrative action when needed to ensure compliance.”

Ohio sports betting rules apply to national ads

Ohio sports betting rules and regulations do not allow sportsbooks to advertise promotions as “free bets” or “risk-free” when customers are required to bet their own money first.

Still, there have been plenty of national ads run during sports events since the Jan. 1 launch including that language. Just because it is a national ad does not excuse it from Ohio’s rules, though, according to a state spokesperson:

“Operators have been aware of our rules for months, and have received multiple reminders of the need to include a clear and conspicuous responsible gambling message and that ads offering ‘free’ or ‘risk-free’ bets must not require the patron to incur any loss or risk their own money to use or to withdraw winnings.

“… Ads and promotions appearing in Ohio must abide by Ohio’s laws and rules.”

None of the sportsbooks contacted by LSR wanted to discuss Ohio’s ad rules and the potential impact on national ads.

Ad rules apply to gambling tweets, too

The OCCC also made clear it expects the rules to be followed regardless of the platform. That means tweets from gambling companies are under the microscope more than ever.

Some operators, including betJACK and betr, started attaching a responsible gambling message to gambling-related tweets in a second tweet. The OCCC would not say if that is enough to comply with the rules:

“Operators and/or those advertising on their behalf are encouraged to contact the Commission if they have questions.”

Betting in Ohio off to strong start

No US market had a busier first two days of the year than Ohio, according to GeoComply.

Ohio saw 11.3 million geolocation transactions over the period with 783,900 unique accounts active.

Compare that to activity in the top US sports betting market: New York had 9.3 million geolocation transactions from 460,300 unique accounts.