The companies allegedly promoted sports bets as “free” or “risk-free,” when participants had to put their own money at risk or lose it, according to the state agency.
The OCCC also charged the businesses with failing to include a helpline number and the mandatory warning about problem gambling in their advertisements.
The OCCC said it has notified the three companies that it will be taking action against them.
“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law. These repeated violations leave the Commission no choice but to pursue administrative action to bring operators into compliance,” Matt Schuler, the commission’s executive director said in a release.
The OCC stated that in addition to other corrective measures, it will seek a $150,000 penalty from each company among other remedial actions, to ensure their employees receive proper training on state laws and rules regarding sports gaming advertising.
Before Sunday, the state’s official start day for gambling, the commission had already sent two letters to the parent firms of the sportsbooks DraftKings and Barstool. Both faced the prospect of potentially crippling penalties for advertising that the commission claimed specifically targeted people under the age of 21.
At a press conference on Tuesday, DeWine hinted at growing concern saying that business owners need to be aware that they are under close observation by both the governor and the OCCC and that they will not tolerate violations.
“The companies that are doing the massive advertising need to be aware that they are being looked at very closely by the governor and the Casino Control Commission in regard to statements that they are making. We believe that, in at least several occasions, they have already crossed the line. My message to them is this will not be tolerated in the state of Ohio,” DeWine said.
The businesses have 30 days to reply. The OCCC will hold a public meeting for the full commission to decide on potential corrective measures.
According to Jessica Franks, the director of communications with the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the commission will continue to monitor any sports betting laws infractions as the state expands its sports betting market.
“We take our responsibilities very seriously and would like for the industry to do the same,” Franks told The Star.
The Sports Gaming Revenue Fund will receive money from any fines imposed.
According to senior communications director at DraftKings Stephen Miraglia, “DraftKings is committed to the highest standards of consumer protections and responsible gaming. We do not comment on pending regulatory matters.”
No one from BetMGM, LLC (BetMGM) or American Wagering, Inc. (Caesars) was available for comment.
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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 “DraftKings” by DraftKings. Background Photo “Horse Racing” by Rennett Stowe. CC BY 2.0.