Ohio Sports Betting Regulators Official Propose New Advertising Restrictions

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jul 10, 2024 12:00 AM
Ohio sports betting regulators have officially submitted a plan that would create restrictions on how gambling operators advertise.

Ohio sports betting regulators have made an official attempt to restrict the advertising practices for gambling regulators.

The proposed rule change has been in the works for a while. The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) has put marketing and advertising practices in their sights almost since the launch of sports betting in Ohio. However, violations made by Fanatics sportsbook appear to have accelerated the push. And so, to kick off July, the OCCC formally submitted what amounts to an advertising code of conduct for online sportsbooks in Ohio.

Full Details on Changes That May Come to Ohio Sports Betting Market

This submission, which is being called Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3775-16-09, was finalized following a late-June meeting. And it now sounds like it’s being fast tracked. TJ McBridge of PlayOhio explained all of the details, both the macro and the finer points:

“[The rule change] reads as follows: ‘Sports gaming proprietors must not offer a promotion or bonus in connection with or as a result of a non-gaming, consumer transaction.’ This chapter also outlines a few caveats to this new rule. For instance, an operator would be able to ignore the rule if it complies with all other advertising requirements and if the advertisement 1) does not target individuals under the age of twenty-one, other individuals who are ineligible to participate in sports gaming, individuals with gambling problems, or other vulnerable individuals or 2) is offered only to individuals who have been verified as being twenty-one years of age or older and not participating in the Ohio Voluntary Exclusion Program.”

Essentially, Ohio regulators are trying to prevent online sportsbooks in the United States from cross-promoting their gambling across other products and services. And it seems as if they’re prepared to levy stark punishments to those who violate their guidelines. 

As of now, the penalty for sportsbooks in Ohio that don’t comply include a halt of their entire operations. That’s a pretty big-time disincentive. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us if Ohio sports betting regulators receive push-back from mobile gambling sites.

Granted, it’s not clear if online betting sites in Ohio will actually oppose this rule. After all, they have the ability to work around it. For example, running programs that verify ages of clientele and creating a specific mailing list would allow for continued cross-promotion.

Why is Ohio Fast-Tracking Sports Betting Advertisement Guidelines Now

Though the Ohio sports betting market has discussed advertising guidelines before, many are wondering why they’re scrambling to implement this rule now. Technically, there is no official answer to this inquiry. But those in the industry almost universally agree it’s a response to Fanatics Sportsbook.

As McBridge noted over at PlayOhio: “Fanatics was offering Ohio residents who made purchases via the Fanatics merchandise store bonus bets of the same value. This violates Rule 3775-16-08 because the promo was available to patrons under 21 years of age. It also violates Rule 3775-16-09 because responsible gambling measures require operators to provide opt-out options for future ads.”

The Fanatics issue could prove to be a unique one. Not every sportsbook has a parent company that owns and operates a merchandise store. Especially one with the same name. 

But it does sound like Rule 3775-16-08 takes aim at more than just cross-promotional programs. Really, it seems like it’s trying to make Ohio sports betting advertisements as inaccessible as possible to those under the age of 21

And look, that should not exactly be considered ambitious. Or, frankly, groundbreaking. The legal Ohio sports betting age is 21. Companies shouldn’t be readily targeting or even inadvertently directing ads toward customers age 20 or younger. 

Could Ohio Receive Resistance from Online Sports Wagering Operators?

Still, even if the nature of this Ohio sports betting rule change aligns with the Buckeye State’s overarching legality, there’s no guarantee it had universal support.

At the bare minimum, this policy would require extra steps from online sportsbooks in Ohio. They would have to more specifically target their ads. And if there’s no effective way to more rigidly target the audience, it will eat into their overall volume of advertisements. That, in turn, is grounds for them to argue this rule is bad for business.

On top of that, the Buckeye State already has one of the more extensive processes for acquiring an Ohio sports betting license. Could operators see this as yet another logistical hoop they’d rather not jump through?

Our money is sportsbooks not resisting the policy. Perhaps there would be more push-back from operators if this were a smaller market. But the lifetime Ohio sports betting handle just eclipsed $10 billion. That is a level of popularity operators won’t want to risk losing. No matter how much this rule change could cost them in operating expenses or total profit, the Buckeye State has the population size to ensure they’ll still come out ahead.

The more interesting question: Will other states follow the lead of Ohio sports betting regulators? Some markets have loosely to moderately discussed implementing ad restrictions. Right now, however, it’s far from the industry standard. But when a major market like Ohio makes such a change, there’s a chance it sets off a domino effect. So while they might be one of first to explore this type of policy, we’re certain they won’t be last. 

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    Bovada
    4.3/5
    50% bonus up to $250
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetOnline
    4.1/5
    100% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    BetUS
    4.4/5
    125% up to $2,500
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Xbet
    4.3/5
    $500 Sign-up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • MyBookie
    50% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Bookmaker
    100% up to $400
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Sportsbetting
    3.6/5
    50% up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EveryGame
    $500 Sign Up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • WagerWeb
    3.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetDSI
    3.3/5
    100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.3/5
    100% up to $450
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read our affiliate disclosure here.