Ohio Casino Control Commission hand out hefty fines for DraftKings and PENN Entertainment

We independently review everything we recommend based on our strict editorial guidelines. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn More

The Ohio Casino Control Commission has fined DraftKings and PENN Entertainment (Barstool) a total of $750,000 for breaches of its advertising regulations within days of the official state launch. DraftKings settled two violations for a total fine of $500,000 and PENN one violation for $250,000. The settlements saw both companies waive their rights to a hearing.

Barstool was found to have breached two rules after hosting a live event outside the University of Toledo’s football stadium on November 15th. During the aforementioned event, dubbed the ‘Barstool College Football Show’, Barstool advertised its sportsbook by promoting Ohio pre-registration together with the ‘mycash’ loyalty program which is usable in PENN’s four commercial casino/racino operations in the state.

Ohio sports betting legislation specifically disallows sports and  casino advertising and promoting on college or campus which was Barstool’s first breach, with the second being ‘targeting customers who are under 21.’

DraftKings had also been found to have conducted multiple breaches. Firstly, in December DraftKings was found to have sent a mailer with promotional material for its sportsbook to over 2,500 Ohio residents who were under the legal age to gamble, 21. The mailers offered up to $200 in free bets, and a QR code, which if scanned, would allow a user to download the DraftKings mobile sports betting agent. This significant breach of targeting underaged youth came with a $350,000 fine.

The remaining $150,000 came for breach of Ohio legislation regarding free bet promotion. DraftKings offered $200 in free bet credits if a customer first wagered at least $5. Ohio’s legislation states that operators may only promote something as free if the customer doesn’t have to utilize their own capital to use the offer.

Stephanie Sherman, Chief Marketing Officer for DraftKings commented: “We want to emphasize that we take these issues very seriously and that ensuring safe and responsible play is what truly underscores all of our efforts”.

Chris Soriano, Chief Compliance Officer for PENN Entertainment told the hearing: ““We are here today proud of our culture of compliance and proud of our responsibility as an operator for many years that we’ve operated in Ohio. In this matter, we fell short of the mark. We accept responsibility for that…we recognize that we have violated the Ohio regulations and Ohio law regarding this. We admit that we have fallen short of the mark and we regret that this has taken place.”

“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law,” Matthew Schuler, the OCCC’s executive director, said in a press release. “These repeated violations leave the Commission no choice but to pursue administrative action to bring operators into compliance. The Commission takes responsible gambling seriously — and expects the industry to value the same.”