Penn Sports Interactive couldn’t even wait for Ohio sports betting to begin to potentially run afoul of responsible gambling standards in the state. A potential fine of as much as $250,000 could come down from gaming regulators in the state soon.
The penalty is connected to Penn allegedly marketing its forthcoming sportsbook. Specifically marketing to people who are not yet old enough to legally bet on sports in Ohio.
If the regulators do levy the full $250,000 fine, it will be among the state’s largest penalties.
Penn Sports Interactive is already in hot water in Ohio
During a Wednesday meeting of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, Executive Director Matt Schuler laid out the offending advertising. Ohio law bans the marketing of gambling products targeted at people who are younger than 21 years of age.
The incident in question took place at the University of Toledo. According to WSYX ABC, Penn allegedly promoted its sportsbook during on-campus entertainment.
Jake Garza of PlayOhio reports that during Wednesday’s meeting, Schuler called the conduct “directly at odds with responsible gaming and the law”. Schuler recommended the maximum penalty for the alleged violation.
An upcoming hearing will decide the fate of that recommendation. Regardless of the size of any eventual fine, it’s a poor way for Penn to begin its relationship with the OCCC.
Why Penn needs to stay on regulators’ good side
There are many potential long-term ramifications of racking up violations like these.
Eventually, Penn will need to renew its sports betting license. A history of such violations may hinder that process. Additionally, there is some legal precedent for revoking a license given enough violations.
In addition, the poor reputation of Penn’s sportsbook may affect the standing of Penn’s other interests. Specifically those within the state such as Hollywood Casino Toledo.
Currently, Penn Sports Interactive’s bad track record of irresponsible marketing is holding up a license approval for another Penn casino in Massachusetts.
In short, Penn needs to avoid any more similar incidents. Getting a first strike on the record before Ohio gambling even expands to include sports betting is a step in the wrong direction.