Ohio regulators offer clarity on prohibited sportsbook promotions

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In a recent update to its FAQ the Ohio Casino Control Commission has made it abundantly clear that promotions like the one Fanatics tried to run around its merchandise and its Ohio online sportsbook.

In a communication to stakeholders, the OCCC explained its concern around these deals involving unrelated consumer transactions:

“The Commission considers responsible gambling to be a cornerstone of the integrity of sports gaming in Ohio. These types of consumer promotions, if permitted, would contribute to the normalization of gambling—providing gambling rewards from simply engaging in non-gaming consumer spending activity. The Commission is cognizant that research demonstrates that the normalization of gambling increases the risk for problem gambling, especially among young people. Therefore, these types of promotions, offered to consumers based on their non-gaming related purchases, threaten the integrity of sports gaming in Ohio and are not permitted.”

The communique also added that the nature of these promotions qualifies as direct advertising and is not considered “generally available.” They also lacked the necessary measures for opt-ing out, verifying ages, and adhering to self-exclusion lists that are required for sportsbook promotions.

All operators in the state have until July 7 at 5pm to remove any promotions that might run afoul of the commission’s opinion on non-gaming purchase promotions.

Additionally, the commission is proposing a new regulation to clarify any confusion going forward. The commission is proposing the following new language in the regs:

“Sports gaming proprietors may not offer a promotion or bonus in connection with or as a result of a non-gaming consumer transaction. This paragraph does not prohibit a sports gaming proprietor from participating in a consumer loyalty program, as approved by the executive director.”