Caesars fined $150,000 for sports betting violations in Ohio

The Ohio Casino Control Commission approved a $150,000 fine against Caesars Sportsbook during its meeting Wednesday in Columbus.

The state’s gaming regulatory body found the Las Vegas-based sportsbook violated advertising standards. It found ads that did not include conspicuous messaging for promoting responsible gambling practices, nor did they include an approved telephone number for a problem gambling hotline.

Legal sports betting is just a little more than two weeks old in the Buckeye State, but the commission has been vigilant in citing sportsbooks for violating rules. Caesars was one of three that received notices earlier this month, with DraftKings and BetMGM being the others. They, too, face $150,000 fines for similar violations.

Even before the Jan. 1 launch, the OCCC cited DraftKings in a separate violation after it sent promotional mailers to individuals under the age of 21, which is the minimum age to place a sports bet in the state. It faces a potential $350,000 fine for that violation.

The commission also found Penn Sports Interactive violated rules against promoting sports betting on college campuses during a November event before a University of Toledo football game. Penn faces a $250,000 fine for the violation.

Caesars had the right to a hearing over its violations but chose not to pursue that. Caesars Digital President Eric Hession said the errors were the result of a third-party affiliate that was promoting the sports betting app. Caesars has terminated its national agreement with that company, he added.

Before the commission approved the fine, OCCC Chair June Taylor commended Caesars for acknowledging the issue and taking action to fix it.

“The fact that your organization terminated this affiliate relationship not only speaks volumes about your values and your philosophy and your leadership, but I think for us, it’s a model in compliance,” she said. “We hope those that are listening also are learning.”

Even with the issues about sportsbooks and their advertising practices, OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler told the commission that the New Year’s Day launch went well.

As the fourth-largest state in the nation to legalize online sports betting, Ohio stands to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue from the revenues sports betting operators generate. The state has approved 17 online operators, and there are also 13 physical sportsbooks that have been approved and approximately 700 kiosks installed in lottery retailers across the state.

Even before the first monthly report is released, the commission announced at Wednesday’s meeting that the state has already received $39.4 million in licensing fees from the sports betting operators and their Ohio business partners. The state law calls for the state’s pro sports teams, casinos and racinos to get preference for licenses, but other entities, such as the Hall of Fame Village in Canton, have been approved as well.

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