The state of Ohio launched its legal sports betting market on January 1st, 2023. The rollout started with a bang, bringing major sports betting operators to a state with a major population of dedicated sports fans of teams like the Ohio State Buckeyes and Cincinnati Bengals. However, the rollout of legal wagering in the state has also started some new conversations about responsible gaming, and not just confined within Ohio.
The expected language with Ohio sports betting operators could begin to apply to the rest of the country, where online sports betting is legal in 26 states. Let’s dive deeper into the changing tides of sports wagering advertising.
Ohio Sports Betting Industry Setting Precedent For Ad Terminology
Once sports betting apps began to become available in Ohio, it became clear that the state’s regulators were serious about correct wording and responsible advertising. According to Legal Sports Report, one of the biggest changes the state made was banning the usage of terminology such as “risk-free bets” and “free wagers” when promoting different signup bonuses.
Despite the focus on eliminating this terminology in Ohio, numerous states across the U.S. still use this verbiage in national advertising campaigns. An Ohio spokesman has since made it clear that these companies will need to follow these rules when advertising in Ohio, which could signal changes across the board for sports betting advertising in the near future.
— betr (@betr) January 12, 2023
Fines Begin Piling Up After Ad Violations
The Ohio Casino Control Commission, the entity that oversees the entire state’s sports gambling industry, has showed it means business with its regulations by handing out some major fines for violations.
The Caesars Entertainment betting site Caesars Sportsbook and the MGM Resorts International betting site BetMGM Sportsbook are both facing $150,000 fines from the OCCC. Both mobile betting apps had used banned terminology like “free” and “risk-free” in advertisements for their new online sportsbooks, as well as failed to include information on a gambling hotline.
Barstool Sportsbook has also been fined up to $250,000 for promoting itself at a University of Toledo event.
DraftKings Sportsbook is also facing up to $500,000 in total fines from the OCCC for two separate violations. The first of these occurred prior to the New Year’s Day launch, with the mobile betting app receiving a potential $250,000 fine for mailing thousands of advertisements to Ohio residents under the legal betting age.
Like Caesars Sportsbook and BetMGM Sportsbook, DraftKings has also been faced with a $150,000 fine for ad language and lack of responsible gaming messaging.
No Cavs. No Blue Jackets.
How about some Ohio college hoops? 👀
— betJACK (@betJACK) January 11, 2023
Twitter Expected To Play By Same Rules
In addition to standard advertisements, the messaging from online sportsbook Twitter accounts will also be looked at closely. This has already been seen with mobile betting apps such as betr Ohio and betJack Ohio, both of which have begun including responsible messaging in posted images or followup tweets.
How these sports betting operators continue to respond to these regulations in Ohio and beyond will be interesting to monitor, and could define the future of sports betting in 2023.