Barstool Sportsbook Faces Possible Fine for Alleged Ohio Violations
If you’re going to market sports betting to college students, you better make your responsible gambling (RG) resources highly visible and you better not market to anyone under 21.
That’s the message that the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) is sending to sports betting operators after recommending a $250,000 fine against Barstool Sportsbook. The fine came two months after Barstool hosted an event at the University of Toledo.
“In short, the Commission asks that all operators immediately review their advertising materials and ensure that all materials include an RG message and that the RG message is conspicuous,” said in a newsletter to operators. “We ask that all operators look at the platforms and areas they are advertising and ensure they are not targeted at individuals under 21.”
OCCC alleges Barstool violated age, responsible gambling requirements
On November 15, Barstool Sports hosted a college football show at the University of Toledo. During the show, which was live-streamed on YouTube, host Kayce Smith mentioned near the end of the broadcast a promo code f or early signups for Barstoool Sportsbook.
“The Barstool Sportsbook is going to be live in Ohio in January, so we’re doing a little pre-registration,” Smith said around the 40-minute mark of the livestream. “If you do pre-register right now, you can get $50 bonus cash and $50 MyCash at Penn Casino using OHLIVE. So, again, if you guys just want, you know, bonus cash for the Barstool Sportsbook, go pre-register right now. If you have a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.”
Barstool has an Ohio sports betting license through Penn Entertainment. So, mentioning a promo code and sign-ups to a crowd of college students is a cardinal sin, so to speak.
The promo mention went out to a crowd of students that had people under 21. OCCC rules specifically prohibit promoting sportsbooks to people under 21.
Additionally, the OCCC alleged that the promo was targeted toward a college campus. This makes the promo mention different from acceptable (by OCCC standards) sports betting advertising through TV or radio stations that are generally available to the public.
OCCC recommends $250,000 fine for Barstool Sportsbook
The OCCC sent a notice to Barstool sportsbook informing them of the violations. It also told Barstool and owner Penn Entertainment it recommended a $250,000 fine. However, the fine isn’t a guarantee. The OCCC has to hold a hearing to determine the fine amount and any alternative or additional punishments, according to PlayOhio.
Barstool Sportsbook will have a chance to defend itself at the hearing. One point they may bring up is that their sportsbook marketing wasn’t targeted. The event’s livestream was available to the channel’s 1.4 million subscribers. The stream had 32,778 views, according to its YouTube page. From the looks of the livestream, there were just a few hundred in attendance at the university event.
As for the fact that the event promoted Barstool Sportsbook to underage people? That one’s going to be hard to argue against. Barstool likely did not check the ages of everyone who attended the event. As such, they had no idea how many people under 21 were in the crowd.