The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) announced it is seeking a $150,000 (£126,000/ €143,000) fine each from BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings for advertising violations.
According to the regulator, the three operators, or their affiliates, all ran sports betting ads on multiple platforms that were in violation of both Ohio law and administrative rules relating to advertising and promotions.
“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law,” said OCCC executive director Matthew Schuler. “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.”
Under the provisions of Ohio law, operators are required to “clearly and conspicuously” contain a message designed to prevent problem gambling, as well as a helpline number for those experiencing gambling harms to access resources.
Ohio updated its advertising guidelines on 30 December, and directed all operators to ensure that their ads were compliant with the rules before the launch of the regulated market on 1 January, 2023.
The three companies also advertised promotions or bonuses using the language “free” and “risk-free” despite users being required to incur a loss or risk their own money in order to receive the promotion, in violation of Commission rules.
On top of the fines, the OCCC will be requesting additional remedial action to ensure personnel are trained in Ohio state laws, rules and policies regarding sports betting advertising and promotion.
The operators have a right to defend themselves against the accusation levelled by the Commission. Ultimately any fines will be voted on in a public meeting following a hearing. All proceeds from the enforcement action will be placed in the state’s Sports Gaming Revenue Fund.
The OCCC is separately seeking a $350,000 fine from DraftKings for mailed sports betting advertisements addressed to individuals under the age of 21.
“The Commission has been very clear about the rules and standards for sports gaming advertising with the industry, and are disappointed with the lack of compliance we have seen despite reminders,” added Schuler. “While we do not take administrative action lightly, DraftKings’ conduct in this case warrants the Commission’s intervention to ensure the integrity of sports gaming.”
The Ohio regulated sports betting market is less than a week old, having launched at the start of the new year. The Ohio state House and Senate agreed the date when legislating the legalization of sports wagering in December 2021.
A number of national market leaders received licenses prior to launch, including Flutter-owned FanDuel, the Entain and MGM joint venture BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings.