Sports Betting Company May Face $250,000 Fine After Being Accused of Promoting Sports Gaming to College Students in Ohio

Penn Sports Interactive (Penn) could face a $250,000 fine over promoting sports betting in Ohio to underage bettors on a college campus.

Penn Sports Interactive is the parent company of Barstool Sportsbook, an online sports betting site. The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) claims that Barstool violated the rules at the University of Toledo when the company promoted a pre-registration deal on its app during a show.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association prohibits this on college campuses and in front of an audience under 21 years old. This is said to be one of the largest financial penalties, if not the largest, recommended by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

Matt Schuler, executive director of the state commission that oversees sports gaming, announced the fine during the OCCC meeting in Columbus on Wednesday.

According to a letter the commission sent to Penn on December 9th, Barstool hosted its Barstool College Football Show at the University of Toledo’s campus on November 15. During the show, the commission said Barstool advertised its sportsbook by promoting pre-registration with its own cash bonuses and with “mycash” which is usable at Penn’s casinos.

The notice of violation says that the state’s administrative code “prohibits sports gaming advertising or promoting on college or university campuses in the state of Ohio unless the advertising is generally available.”

It states that advertisements targeting collegiate campuses are considered “not generally available.” Ohio law also prohibits sports betting advertisements targeting people under 21.

“Responsible gaming should be the cornerstone of any gaming business. This apparent direct promotion to college students is completely at odds with responsible gaming and the law,” Schuler said.

In addition to the fine, the casino commission told Penn it intends to require the company to train all its employees about Ohio laws, policies, and procedures about advertising or promoting sports betting.

Schuler said that this isn’t a position that the commission likes being in. As a rule, it prefers to help the state’s gambling companies. But in instances like this, Ohio’s responsible gambling rules must come first.

“The commission does not, never has, taken administrative action lightly and does not seek to fine or deny companies,” Schuler said.

Penn operates four casinos or racinos in Ohio, including the Hollywood Casino in Toledo and Youngstown, Columbus, and Dayton facilities.

Penn may request a hearing on the matter and has 30 days from the date of the notice to do so. The casino control commission will announce it at a future public meeting. Money from any fines will go into Ohio’s general fund.

Legal sports betting in Ohio does not go into effect until January 1st, 2023.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Barstool College Football Show” by Barstool Sports. 




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