Wednesday’s meeting of the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) once again put responsible gambling front and center as it discussed not just the $150,000 fine levied against Caesars Sportsbook but also hatred on social media directed at college athletic programs and their individual athletes.
Caesars Sportsbook fine caused by an affiliate partner
Caesars was one of three groups cited earlier this month for advertisements using terms like “free bet” and “risk-free” Caesars Digital President Eric Hession appeared before the commission and offered some context to the incident.
Hession explained the error came from a third-party affiliate group. Caesars has terminated its relationship with the affiliate and accepted the fine without contention. Unlike other states where affiliates are licensed, Ohio affiliates and their marketing activities are the responsibility of the operators they work with. Given the fine was levied as a group on Caesars along with BetMGM and DraftKings, it is possible the other operators were working with the same affiliate.
OCCC Chair June Taylor applauded Caesars for the steps it took to remedy the problem and ensure it won’t happen again.
“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. We hope those that are listening also are learning,” she said.
The commission also labeled affiliate marketers as “the weakest link” when it comes to sports betting marketing in Ohio.
Social media abuse directed towards athletes also a topic of discussion
While affiliates may be the weakest link, another group that came under fire during the meeting were angry bettors who lashed out at athletes on social media. OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler drew the commissioners’ attention to University of Dayton men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant, who recently expressed his concern about the vitriol being spewed at his players. While he did not say outright it was angry gamblers, he hinted that was the problem in recent press conferences:
“I have to say something because I think it’s just necessary at this point. There’s some laws that have recently been enacted, that really to me—it could really change the landscape of what college sports is all about. And when we have people that make it about themselves and attack kids because of their own agenda, it sickens me,” he stated.
Schuler advised the commission that they have the power to put these verbal abusers on an exclusion list and encouraged the group to consider that option going forward.
The meeting did have its non-controversial moments. As part of the proceedings, WynnBet received approval to launch in the state.