The State of Ohio kicked off 2023 with a bang, with the state opening its doors to legal sports betting for the first time. It has been a solid first week in the state, with early numbers looking very promising. However, three fines have also been handed out by the commission. DraftKings, BetMGM, and Ceasars were all fined for advertising violations.
Clearly Defined Rules
As a new market, Ohio wants to make its rules clear to sportsbooks doing business there. The three fines that have been handed out are in relation to failure to meet advertising standards. All three operators failed to incorporate sufficient messaging about responsible gambling in their advertising. This is a message that the OCCC has been clear about, having sent out multiple reminders before the market's opening on New Year's Day.
The Executive Director of the OCCC, Matt Schuler, spoke about the importance of this messaging. They said that the fines handed out were the commission’s response to the disregard displayed by the three operators. They reiterated the fact that multiple reminders were handed out before the launch.
Schuler said that the violations left the OCCC with no choice but to take administrative action. All three operators have been given the chance to hold a hearing for the fines, but it remains to be seen whether they will accept.
Another violation that was committed was the use of the phrases ‘free’ and ‘risk-free’ bets by all three operators. The OCCC has made it clear that these phrases should not be used by operators in their advertisements. This is because punters still have to bet their own money in order to claim such promotions.
This is not the first time that DraftKings has found itself in hot water with the OCCC. The company is alleged to have breached advertising rules shortly before the launch of the market. The commission claims that the operator sent out advertising material to people under the age of 21 in November. The commission is investigating this matter and could opt to fine DraftKings $350,000 depending on the outcome.
DraftKings is not the only operator to have violated this rule. Before the launch, the OCCC also slapped Barstool Sportbook with a notice of violation and a $250,000 fine. The operator breached this rule during a College Football Show at the University of Toledo towards the end of 2022.
A Strong Start for Ohio
Despite these violations, Ohio has shown very good signs during the market’s first week. Numbers from GeoComply show that 16 operators have launched in the state and that 784,000 unique accounts were opened on the first day alone.
These numbers are very strong and will have calmed some of the reservations that legislators in the state may still have.
Liam is a skilled writer and journalist, highly regarded for his perceptive examination of the gambling industry. He specializes in online casinos and sports betting, and his work has been published in top-tier publications. Here at GoodLuckMate, Liam covers the latest industry news and has also authored various gambling guides, offering both beginners and experienced players in-depth analyses of games and strategies.