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Ohio made some significant changes to its sports betting landscape last week when it doubled the operator tax rate, but that wasn’t the only action it took. Ohio also announced tighter restrictions on advertising for sportsbooks, eliminating their ability to offer promos on unrelated consumer transactions. That means that operators in the state will not be able to provide promos for their sportsbooks to consumers when they are shopping online.
This move comes as states nationwide begin to focus on sportsbook advertising. States like Vermont have passed legislation that focuses on controlling advertising for sports betting to avoid normalizing gambling. This action has stemmed from concerns that these promos and advertisements could target underage bettors or those with addiction issues.
“The Commission is cognizant that research demonstrates that the normalization of gambling increases the risk for problem gambling, especially among young people,” The OCCC stated when the announcement came down. “These types of promotions include offers made to a consumer following the consumer transaction on the affiliate marketer’s website of an application made following the consumer transaction to the consumer’s e-mail address, by mail, or other direct communication.”
While there are examples of several sportsbooks advertising promos through affiliates, Fanatics is the one most commonly cited when talking about the issue. The new sportsbook is just starting in the US market, but they are also a prominent seller of sports merchandise. They offered a promotion that gave free bets to people who purchased merchandise through one of their retail sites. Fanatics included the problem gambling links in this promo to make it legal, but Ohio officially ended the practice.
The promo also went viral as people across Twitter began to share and criticize the campaign for “normalizing gambling” and targeting those who may not even understand the industry. They said the temptation of “free bets” led people to create a Fanatics Sportsbook account to take advantage of the deal, only to lose their money. This could lead to an uptick in problem gambling, which is the biggest concern shared by regulators in the industry.
Fanatics has since discontinued this promotion to comply with the OCCC’s announcement.
Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.More info on Michael Savio
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