Ohio Governor warns gambling companies to comply with the state’s advertising rules after sports betting launch

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said he has taken a personal interest in enforcing state regulations for advertising by gambling companies in his first comments on the subject since the launch of legal sports betting in the Buckeye State on New Year’s day. 

DeWine told reporters Tuesday that he has shared his concerns directly with the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the state agency that regulates betting in Ohio, as well as with several members of the casino control commission’s board. 

The companies that are doing the massive advertising need to be aware that they’re being looked at very closely by the governor and the Casino Control Commission in regard to statements that they are making,” he said, as reported by Cleveland.com.

“We believe that at least on several occasions they’ve already crossed the line. My message to them is that this will not be tolerated in the State of Ohio,” he further stated.

One of the occasions involves a $350,000 fine the commission wants to levy against sports betting giant DraftKings, which allegedly sent advertisements to underage customers. State regulators said the company mailed roughly 2,500 advertisements to people under the age of 21.

The regulator stated it is taking administrative action against the company for what it said is a violation of Ohio’s sports gaming advertising rules. The operator will be able to request a hearing, and no fine will be issued until the company gets due process. 

The Commission has been very clear about the rules and standards for sports gaming advertising with the industry, and are disappointed with the lack of compliance we have seen despite reminders,” said the commission’s executive director, Matthew Schuler, this month.

Dave Portnoy, Barstool founder

But DraftKings is not the only company to be put on notice. Barstool Sportsbook was issued a notice of violation earlier in December because of an event held at the University of Toledo’s campus. Advertising on or near college campuses is also against Ohio’s sports betting rules.

DeWine also called attention to the promotions gambling companies are offering, such as those extending free betting credits, as part of the competition to draw customers in the fresh betting market.

“That’s a pretty clear line they cannot cross,” DeWine further said, as reported by the cited source. ”I also think they must be very careful, candidly, in regard to the claim of ‘free money and free gaming.’ When you look at the fine print, or try to figure out what it really means, it doesn’t mean what certainly is being implied by the TV advertising.”

DeWine signed the bill legalizing sports gambling in Ohio in December 2021, but it only became legal on January 1, 2023. The state spent the last year setting up the program, including developing regulations and licensing operators for mobile and in-person sports betting.