Ohio Gamblers Could Face Sports Betting Ban Over Threats, Regulator Suggests

The Ohio Casino Control Commission also resolved an advertising-related issue with Caesars Sportsbook and approved an online sports betting license for WynnBET.

Last Updated: Jan 18, 2023 1:32 PM ET Read Time: 3 min
CJ Stroud Ohio State Buckeyes NCAAF
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Ohio gamblers who can’t handle their losses and threaten athletes about those wagers could someday find themselves banned from retail and online sports betting sites in the Buckeye State. 

That, at least, was one possible consequence floated on Wednesday by the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) during the regulator’s monthly meeting. The meeting was the OCCC’s first since the start of retail and online sports betting in Ohio on January 1. 

Matt Schuler, the commission’s executive director, said he was made aware of recent comments by the head coach of the University of Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team, which included that players had been receiving angry messages from gamblers. 

This didn’t sit right with Schuler, who told commissioners on Wednesday that they can put people on an exclusion list that would ban them from gambling in Ohio. 

“And I think that it's incumbent upon the commission to look into that very power,” Schuler said. “That if social media is able to help us determine who these individuals are that are speaking out hate to kids, then the commission has a responsibility to ensure that… certainly those people cannot engage in legal sports gaming in the state of Ohio. We obviously don't have control over people's behavior, but we do have control over what venues they can choose to participate.” 

A clear warning

While it remains to be seen if the regulator will take such a step, or how they would go about it, the possibility alone could deter bad behavior on social media by losing gamblers. But given that many athletes are on social media and sports betting has finally come to Ohio, the commission may find themselves with cause to try.

The involuntary exclusion list cited by Schuler allows the OCCC to put a gambling ban on people "whose presence in a sports gaming facility or whose participation in the play or operation of sports gaming in Ohio poses a threat to the interests of the state, to achieving the interests of the [Ohio sports betting law], or to the strict and effective regulation of sports gaming," an analysis of the wagering legislation says.

"It's something that I wasn't planning on talking about today," Schuler said. "But I saw it and I thought that it was important enough to bring up to make sure that anyone who's listening understands that this type of behavior is not okay for anybody, in any venue, at all." 

A final order

Ohio has fast become a strict jurisdiction for legal sports betting regulation, even though the state only began event wagering a few weeks ago. The OCCC has already proposed several fines for operators, one of which was approved by commissioners on Wednesday for Caesars Sportsbook.

Caesars was issued a notice of violation by the OCCC on January 5 over alleged advertising violations. The regulator said the bookmaker had used the phrases "free" or "risk-free" in connection with offers that required players to risk real money, as well as used marketing that did not contain conspicuous responsible gaming messaging. BetMGM and DraftKings were issued similar notices of violation, which the OCCC said could be due to their affiliate marketers. 

Officials from Caesars appeared before the commission on Wednesday and apologized, but also noted that the content at issue in the matter was provided by a third-party marketing affiliate that advertises via social media. While Caesars requires affiliates to only use content approved by the bookmaker, in this case that did not happen, and the company says it terminated its relationship with the affiliate.

Still, Caesars waived its right to a formal hearing before the commission on the matter, which led the regulator to a final order to resolve the issue. The commission approved the order, its $150,000 fine for Caesars, and its requirement for the bookmaker to conduct additional staff training. 

“I think 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 that I think we hope that those that are listening also are learning,” OCCC Chair June Taylor said. 

The Ohio Casino Control Commission also approved an online sports betting license for WynnBET on Wednesday. While 16 online sportsbooks began taking bets on January 1, WynnBET was not one of them, although it could soon launch in the state. 

WynnBET is partnered with JACK Thistledown Racino in North Randall for mobile wagering access in Ohio.

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