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Three Sportsbooks Accused of Advertising Violations in Ohio

  • BetMGM, Caesars, and DraftKings allegedly broke Ohio law in their ads.
  • The companies allegedly lacked responsible gaming messaging, and promoted "free" or "risk-free" bets.
Christine Tannous / The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The first week of legal sports betting in Ohio will see three of the country’s most prominent sportsbooks come under fire.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission announced that it intends to take administrative action against the parent companies of BetMGM, Caesars, and DraftKings for violating Ohio law and administrative rules concerning advertising.

The Commission alleges that all three companies ran advertisements lacking the appropriate clear and conspicuous responsible gaming messaging. The Commission says it issued explicit guidelines and asked all of the operators to ensure they were compliant just before legalization on Dec. 30.

Additionally, all three companies allegedly advertised “free” or “risk-free” bets on their platforms — another violation of the Ohio betting law.

Ohio Adm Code 3775-16-09(D) prohibits the use of the word “free” or the phrase “risk-free” in advertisements for sportsbook promotions where a patron must spend their own funds to obtain the promotional value.

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For these violations, the Commission is seeking a $150,000 fine from each company, and remedial action to ensure all relevant company employees are trained in Ohio’s laws, rules, and policies pertaining to advertising and sports betting.

All three companies will have the right to a hearing and due process. The Commission will vote publicly on any action ultimately taken.

“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law,” the Commission’s executive director Matthew Schuler said in a statement. “The Commission takes responsible gambling seriously – and expects the industry to value the same.”

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