Ohio’s gaming regulator is instructing operators to cease any promotions that offer a sports-betting inducement that is connected to a non-gaming transaction and proposing rules to eliminate any uncertainty to that effect.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) sent a bulletin to industry stakeholders Wednesday (June 28) regarding changes to the commission’s frequently asked questions and a proposed rule change dealing with gaming inducements.
The new rule would prohibit operators from offering a promotion or bonus in connection to or as the result of a non-gaming consumer transaction.
In a statement, the commission made clear that it already believes these types of bonuses are not permitted, and requested all operators to confirm that they either do not offer or will have ceased offering these types of promotions by July 7.
“Although the commission considers these types of promotions to be impermissible, and directs all operators to immediately cease these promotions, the commission is aware that further administrative rules in this area would assist the industry in ensuring compliance with Ohio law,” wrote Andromeda Morrison, general counsel for the commission, in a message to stakeholders.
The move comes, at least in part, in response to a promotional offering by Fanatics in May, during its beta launch in Ohio.
The company offered its sports merchandise customers a free bet on the Fanatics Sportsbook equal to the cost of their merchandise purchase.
The OCCC quickly registered its disapproval of the promotion, and it was swiftly removed from the Fanatics site.
“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.
“Accordingly … the executive director has determined that these types of promotions undermine the integrity of sports gaming in Ohio and may not be offered in Ohio.”
According to the OCCC, “a consumer may not receive a promotion where they ‘earn,’ ‘unlock,’ ‘qualify for,’ or otherwise receive the promotion as a result of the consumer purchase. This includes promotions where a consumer transaction is ‘matched’ for a bonus by the operator.”
In addition, even without the offer of a bonus, advertising that accompanies non-gaming purchases would be subject to responsible gambling requirements.
“Moreover, these types of promotions, triggered to consumers based upon their purchase, are not “generally available” and are instead direct advertisements targeting a specific consumer,” Morrison wrote in the bulletin.
“As such, even if these promotions were otherwise permitted, they would need to meet the requirements in Ohio Adm. Code 3775-16-08 including the ability to opt out of future offers, age verification, and ensuring the consumer is not a participant in an exclusion program.”