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Barstool Owners Fined $250K for Violating Ohio Gambling Laws, Targeting Students

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated December 16, 2022
4 min read
  • The Ohio Casino Control Commish Fines Barstool Sports for Promoting to Students

  • Barstool Discussed Sportsbook Products During BGSU Tailgate Show, Fined $250K

  • Legal Mobile and Retail Sports Betting in Ohio Launches Jan. 1, 2023, at 12:01 A.M.

Barstool Owners Fined Ohio

The Ohio Casino Control Commish Fines Barstool Sports for Promoting to Students

Just because Ohio college kids like to gamble on sports doesn’t mean sportsbooks can promote the activity directly to them, in fact as Barstool Sports just found out, it’s against the gambling laws of that state and now their parent company Penn Entertainment must pay a quarter mil.

For those new to the Buckeye State sports betting scene, it’s a race to the New Year since by Ohio law the legal market must launch there (mobile and retail) by January, so in the meantime, sportsbooks have been busy advertising their services using freebies to lure in new bettors.

Not a problem, unless those potential customers are underage, and that’s what Barstool Sports found out recently once they did some advertising at an event at the University of Toledo campus, which was against the laws in that state according to the Casino Control Commission.

OCCC Director of Communications Jessica Franks said in a statement:

[Barstool Sports] were encouraging folks to preregister; they were advertising the Sportsbook. We do take responsible gambling very serious here at the commission, especially the fact that sports gaming hasn’t even officially launched. We do not actively seek out to fine or sanction companies.

It’s going to cost Barstool’s majority owner big time before the market even launches.

Barstool Discussed Sportsbook Products During BGSU Tailgate Show, Fined $250K

As reported in the Akron Beacon Journal, Barstool hosted its Barstool College Football Show on the University of Toledo's campus Nov. 15, and during the show, they advertised the sportsbook by promoting pre-registration with its own cash bonuses, a clear violation of the established law.

On Wednesday, the OCCC announced at a public meeting that it will fine Barstool Sports’ majority owners Penn Sports Interactive (PSI) $250,000 – a hefty price to pay, perhaps sending a clear and early message that no bending or breaking of the rules will be tolerated.

The parent company of both PSI and Barstool Sports is Penn – they operate four Ohio casinos and racinos including the Hollywood Casino in Toledo and other facilities in Youngstown, Columbus, and Dayton, all money makers on the hook for a quarter of a million dollar fine.

The company reportedly has 30 days to either challenge the finding or else enter into mediation, but at this point, the AB Journal reports that Penn has yet to respond to the letter in which the news of the charges and fine were delivered.

In her statemen, Director Franks made it clear that “Our goal is compliance. It’s only when we have very egregious or repeated violations that we will seek some kind of monetary sanction to underscore the seriousness … That fine may not be the final fine.”

That Ohio market launches in half a month.

At the end of 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed sports betting bill HB 29 into law, and from that point forward the OCCC has been charged with setting up and regulating the market there, a slow, tedious process that finally earned a legal deadline of January 1, 2023.

That means that Ohio bettors will get to wager on the rest of the NFL’s regular season and the playoffs plus the Super Bowl as well as the NCAA Basketball’s Final Four tournament and the NBA, plus whatever other thrilling sports those oddsmakers decide to cover.

Fun for everyone – well, just those over 21 years of age, otherwise it gets really expensive.

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Mike Lukas

Sports Betting & Gambling Industry Analyst

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.
Nationality: American
Education: N/A
Favourite Sportsbook: bet365 Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: Caesars Palace Casino
23 years
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