Ohio Regulators Approve $150,000 Fine For Advertising Rules Infraction

Written By Derek Helling on January 18, 2023
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A Caesars Ohio fine handed down on Wednesday morning could be just the beginning of penalties for legal Ohio sportsbooks who are charged with alleged violations of regulations around their advertisements. Similarly, other online sportsbooks in the state might want to take the same approach that Caesars did.

Caesars opted not to contest whether its marketing materials ran contrary to Ohio rules on the subject and for that reason now faces a $150,000 penalty. The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) took care of other business on Wednesday as well.

Caesars Ohio fine sets the stage for future inquiries

During Wednesday morning’s meeting, representatives for Caesars declined their right to a hearing. They explained the offending advertising came from an affiliate the company had contracted with, not from Caesars directly.

Caesars’ spokesperson went on to explain the company has since severed the relationship with the affiliate. In response, the Commission voted to approve the $150,000 fine. It’s the first such violation for Caesars in Ohio.

At issue are materials that failed two Ohio standards. Sports betting regulations in the state require all sportsbook marketing materials to include a message that encourages people who struggle with pathological gambling to seek treatment and provides a way for such individuals to access such aid, such as a telephone number.

Also, the rules bar any advertising that describes a promotion as “free” or “risk-free” when the promotion requires app users to put up their own real money. Caesars is not the only company that faces such a penalty currently.

The OCCC will soon decide on potential identical penalties for both BetMGM and DraftKings. Additionally, Penn Interactive faces a similar situation. In other business on Wednesday, the OCCC approved a different online sportsbook that can hopefully avoid these issues.

OCCC approves WynnBet, discusses exclusion list

Before the discussion about Caesars’ violation, the OCCC voted to approve an online sports betting license for WynnBet. WynnBet will operate under the license of Jack Thistledown Rodeo in Ohio. It’s unclear right now exactly when the WynnBet app will go live in the Buckeye State.

Additionally, the commission chair Matt Schuler brought up the subject of the OCCC’s power to place individuals on an exclusion list for legal Ohio sports betting. Schuler recommended that the Commission look into whether it can use that authority to ban people from placing bets if they are guilty of harassing collegiate athletes on social media platforms.

It’s also uncertain to what extent the OCCC will utilize that power in the context Schuler suggested right now. For certain, though, the Commission is confident in its ability to penalize Ohio sportsbooks for advertising violations.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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