Ohio Commission Approves Operators, Issues Fine To Barstool Sportsbook

The gaming regulator took aim at Barstool Sportsbook's college-related marketing

The Ohio Casino Control Commission approved four more operators for mobile sports betting licenses Wednesday — including Bally Bet and Underdog Sportsbook — ahead of the state’s legal sports betting launch on Jan. 1

Sadly for those wanting to bet on Ohio State, the OCCC confirmed that sports betting will not move up the scheduled launch from 12:01 a.m. on New Year’s Day. There were rumors that the launch could be expedited due to Ohio State facing Georgia in a College Football Playoff semifinal at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31, but the OCCC officially shot those rumors down this week. 

“The universal start date will not vary,” OCCC Executive Director Matthew Schuler said.

Barstool Sportsbook fined

Among the notable announcements at the OCCC meeting was a notice of violations to PENN Entertainment/Barstool Sportsbook. The commission reported that the sports betting operator targeted advertisement materials to Ohio college campuses, including students under the age of 21, though specific details of the violation were not provided during the meeting. 

“Responsible gaming should be the cornerstone of any gaming business,” Schuler said. “This apparent direct promotion to college students is completely at odds with responsible gaming and the law.” 

The notice of violations recommends that the operator be fined $250,000, although the fine can be appealed. If it is appealed, the OCCC will hold a hearing on the matter. 

Barstool Sportsbook has dealt with significant scrutiny in recent weeks, as The New York Times wrote about Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy’s history of heavy sports betting and other questionable conduct. PENN Entertainment, which operates Barstool Sportsbook, is part-owner of Barstool Sports and relies on Portnoy and his colleagues to promote its sportsbook.

The Times article has raised questions for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during its own review of Barstool Sportsbook as part of that state’s preparation to launch legal sports betting in early 2023.

Operator approvals

During Wednesday’s meeting, the OCCC granted approval for four mobile sports betting licenses. In addition to Bally Bet and Underdog, licenses were awarded to Digital Gaming Corp. and Out The Gate. 

Digital Gaming Corp. owns Betway and is partnered with Belterra Park. Out The Gate is partnered with the SPIRE Institute.

Bally Bet is partnered with the Cleveland Browns. Bally Bet was also awarded a mobile sports betting license in Maryland on Wednesday, an eventful day for the operator, which is already live in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New York, and Virginia. 

It’s worth noting that Underdog Sportsbook is not expected to launch its sportsbook operation on Jan. 1. Underdog is partnered with the Cincinnati Reds. 

Additionally, Lori’s Roadhouse was granted a Type B retail sports betting license. Lori’s Roadhouse is a live-music venue and restaurant in the Cincinnati area. 

J&J Ventures Gaming of Ohio was granted a Type-C sports gaming proprietor license. 

PlayUp concerns

PlayUp, a mobile operator partnered with JACK Cleveland Casino, will not currently be allowed to operate in Ohio. The OCCC reported it uncovered “information regarding potential illegal gambling activity.”

As a result of the discovery, the commission announced plans to deny PlayUp’s operator license in the state. The operator is expected to appeal the decision, via a hearing with the OCCC. 

“To honor the hearing process, I am not going to provide any further comments,” Schuler said.

Photo: Shutterstock


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