Latest Gambling News: Ohio Regulator Loosens Restrictions On Non-Gaming Promotions and more

Kat Pilkington


November 13, 2023

Catch up on six of the stories our gambling compliance analysts have covered lately, and stay up-to-date on the latest news.

Ohio Regulator Loosens Restrictions On Non-Gaming Promotions

Ohio's sports-betting regulator will allow several exceptions to its proposed rule that governs offering gaming promotions relating to non-gaming transactions.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) released an updated draft rule Thursday (November 9) that would still prohibit operators from offering a bonus related to a non-gaming consumer transaction, unless the promotion does not target individuals under the age of 21 or those who are ineligible to participate in sports betting.

The promotion also must not target those with gambling problems or other vulnerable individuals and must only be offered to those who are verified as being 21 years of age and not participating in the state’s self-exclusion program.

The issue emerged earlier this year when Fanatics began offering customers in its sports merchandise online store a free bet that matched the dollar amount of their retail transaction.

The OCCC quickly registered its disapproval of the promotion, which was then removed, and in June the commission released proposed rulemaking that addressed the promotion.

“Promotions targeted to consumers based on non-gaming consumer transactions contribute to the normalization of gambling and threaten the integrity of sports gaming by increasing the risk of problem gambling,” the commission wrote in an update to the FAQ on its website.

MGM Resorts, Culinary Union Avoid Las Vegas Strike

After nearly 20 hours of negotiating, the Culinary Union Local 226 announced a tentative agreement Thursday (November 9) on a new five-year contract with MGM Resorts International. 

The deal covers approximately 25,400 workers at eight Las Vegas properties. The Culinary Union and MGM reached agreement on the contract prior to the strike deadline of 5 a.m. Friday. MGM is the largest employer in Nevada. 

On Wednesday, the Culinary Union also announced it had reached a tentative agreement with Caesars Entertainment, averting a strike affecting 10,000 union members. The union represents 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno.

“We know from listening to our employees that they are looking for a pay increase, the combat inflation, as well as reduced workloads among other concerns,” MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle said during a third-quarter earnings call on Wednesday.

Hornbuckle said the deal will “result in the largest pay increase in the history of our negotiations with the Culinary Union.”

Jonathan Halkyard, CFO and treasurer with MGM, said they’ve been accruing for an increase since June 1, and will look to technology and process improvements to help offset the incremental labor costs.

NCAA Eases For Athletes Caught Gambling On Other Schools

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has adjusted punishment guidelines for athletes who bet on other college sports at their own schools.

According to the previous guidelines, gambling on other NCAA sports would have resulted in permanent loss of eligibility, but now will result in a one-year suspension and lost year of eligibility.

Student-athletes will also be required to participate in sports wagering rules and prevention education as a condition of reinstatement. Previous guidelines, as approved in June, prescribed permanent ineligibility for those cases.

The adjusted guidelines may be applied to cases in which student-athletes are currently serving suspensions related to wagering on a different team at their own school, which were reported on or after May 2, 2023. 

"To be clear, Division I members do not encourage student-athletes to engage in sports wagering at any level, and the actions today to modify reinstatement conditions should not be interpreted as support for wagering behaviors," said Jon Steinbrecher, chair of the Council Coordination Committee and commissioner of the Mid-American Conference.

Under current NCAA rules, it remains impermissible for student-athletes, coaches and athletics administrators to engage in sports wagering in any sport sponsored by the NCAA, including collegiate and professional sports. 

Advertising Restrictions Added To Brazil Sports-Betting Bill

The sports committee in Brazil’s Senate voted to approve a closely-watched sports-betting bill on Wednesday (November 8), after senators added two extra amendments to the latest version of the bill as recommended by committee chairman Romário.

One of the two additional amendments will prohibit all sponsorship of sports teams or athletes by sports-betting operators, while also banning any sports-betting advertising via broadcast networks and social media between the hours of 6am and 11pm.

The second adopted amendment would enable Brazil’s national lottery operator, Caixa Econômica Federal, and its licensed retailers to offer fixed-odds betting without requiring a licence.

Romário, the former football star turned federal senator, also amended his proposal to allow licensed sports-betting operators to now offer up to three skins under a licence.

As previously reported by Vixio GamblingCompliance, Romário’s version of the bill PL 3626/2023 differs significantly from that approved by Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies in September by no longer allowing licensed operators to offer online casino games alongside sports wagering. 

The bill is due to receive further consideration by a separate Senate committee on economic affairs in the coming days, before being put up for a vote by all senators on the Senate floor and then returned to the lower house of Congress for final approval likely before the end of the year.

DraftKings Talked With 888 About Takeover, Newspaper Says

Massachusetts-based DraftKings held preliminary acquisition talks with UK-listed 888 Holdings in June and July, according to the Financial Times.

DraftKings chief executive Jason Robins met with shareholders FS Gaming about an all-stock offer for 888, the owner of William Hill brand in Europe, the British newspaper said.

FS Gaming is led by former GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander, then a top-5 888 shareholder, and ex-GVC chair Lee Feldman, the FT said.

Plans included an opportunity for Alexander to take over 888 as CEO, according to the newspaper.

DraftKings ended the talks after 888 chair Jonathan Mendelsohn revealed in July that the UK Gambling Commission had placed 888’s licence under review after concerns about a tax bribery investigation into GVC’s business in Turkey during Alexander’s period as CEO.

Since then, Per Widerström has been named 888's chief executive.

DraftKings told the FT that “we speak to a variety of companies regarding various matters in the normal course of business, and it is our general policy not to comment on the specifics of any of those discussions”.

888 and FS Gaming did not comment, the newspaper said.

West Flagler Files Motion To Suspend Florida Sports Betting

West Flagler Associates has filed a motion for the Florida Supreme Court to suspend online sports betting in the state in which the court issues a final ruling on its lawsuit challenging provisions of a 2021 tribal gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe.

The motion was filed less than 24 hours after the tribe relaunched its Hard Rock-branded mobile sportsbook in Florida, and one week after the Seminole Tribe also announced the planned opening of retail sports betting at its tribal casinos starting next month.

Raquel Rodriguez, an attorney representing West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp., filed the motion late Tuesday (November 7) claiming “this exigency has been created by the launch of the Seminole Tribe’s mobile betting application … without prior warning.”

“Taking advantage of the distraction created by their carefully crafted announcement on November 1, the tribe has sought to surprise the petitioners and this court by presenting a ‘fait accompli’ on November 7,” Rodriguez wrote. 

The only solution, Rodriguez argued, is for the court to immediately suspend online sports betting until the court has the opportunity to rule on West Flagler’s lawsuit. 

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