Sports betting operators in Ohio have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to tell gaming regulators in the state that they have either not engaged in or have ceased offering promotional bets to customers who make non-gaming-related purchases on an affiliated site.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission sent out a notice to stakeholders on June 28 requesting a response from licensed sportsbooks. In addition, it invited operators and others to comment on a proposed change to Ohio sports betting regulations that further clarifies the ban on such practices.
The memo and proposed rule come after the OCCC moved quickly in May to stop Fanatics from offering a bonus bet at its sportsbook valued at the same price of an item at the online retailer’s sports merchandise website.
State regulators claim the promotion goes against responsible gaming practices.
“These types of consumer promotions, if permitted, would contribute to the normalization of gambling—providing gambling rewards from simply engaging in non-gaming consumer spending activity,” the OCCC memo states. “The Commission is cognizant that research demonstrates that the normalization of gambling increases the risk for problem gambling, especially among young people. Therefore, these types of promotions, offered to consumers based on their non-gaming related purchases, threaten the integrity of sports gaming in Ohio and are not permitted.”
Ohio requires promotions to be “generally available” and not directed to specific customers. In addition, even if the promotions were allowed, operators would need to make sure customers could opt out of receiving such offers and that those offers were not being extended to people under the age of 21 or included in an exclusion list.
A Fanatics spokesperson declined to comment on Thursday.
Comments on New Ohio Sports Betting Rule Due Next Week
The proposed OCCC rule states that operators cannot offer an individual a bonus bet or similar promotion if it’s tied to a “non-gaming consumer transaction.” The proposal, though, does allow operators to offer a consumer loyalty program, provided it’s approved by OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler.
Comments on the proposed rule can be submitted to [email protected] before 5 p.m. ET next Wednesday. It’s uncertain when exactly the Commission would vote to approve the new rule.
The OCCC’s next meeting is scheduled for July 19 in Columbus. However, Director of Communications Jessica Franks told BetOhio Thursday that the new rule would likely not be on the agenda. Staff will need to review all comments received from stakeholders, she said. It’s possible that depending on the number of comments and the feedback that the Commission may decide to make changes to the proposed rule.
Other Changes Happening in Ohio
Regulators aren’t the only ones who have been busy proposing changes to Ohio’s sports betting rules.
Last week, the state legislature agreed to a budget bill that doubles the tax rate to 20% starting this month. The rate hike comes just six months after sports betting launched statewide on Jan. 1.
Besides upping the tax, lawmakers also used the budget to expand the types of lottery retailers eligible to host sports betting kiosks to include breweries, microbreweries, wineries and distilleries with bars or restaurants on site.
It also allows the state to put anyone on an exclusion list prohibiting them from placing bets if they’re found to threaten an athlete in response to a wager.
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