Penn Interactive Fined $250K After Barstool Promotes Sports Betting at Ohio College
Posted on: December 14, 2022, 02:03h.
Last updated on: January 3, 2023, 06:02h.
UPDATE 12/17: This article has been updated to include a statement from Penn Entertainment regarding the action taken by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Penn Sports Interactive faces a $250K fine after it was determined Barstool Sportsbook targeted underage bettors on a college campus. It’s believed to be one of the largest financial penalties – if not the largest – recommended by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
The fine was announced during Wednesday’s Ohio Casino Control Commission meeting in Columbus.
According to a notice the commission sent to Penn Sports last Friday, a copy of which Casino.org has received, Barstool Sports hosted its college football show last month at the University of Toledo. The notice said the state’s administrative code “prohibits sports gaming advertising or promoting on college or university campuses in the state of Ohio, unless the advertising is generally available.”
It goes on to state that ads targeting collegiate campuses are considered “not generally available.” Ohio law also prohibits sports betting ads targeting people under the age of 21.
“In that show, Barstool advertised the Barstool Sportsbook by promoting pre-registration … including the offering of bonus cash for the Barstool Sportsbook and ‘mycash’ for Penn Entertainment Casinos related to sportsbook pre-registration,” the notice said.
Sports betting is not live yet in Ohio. Licensed operators will be allowed to start accepting bets on January 1. However, several operators have already started marketing efforts in the state and offer incentives for players to register in advance of the universal start date.
Penn Entertainment, the parent company of Penn Sports Interactive and Barstool Sportsbooks, operates two casinos and two racinos in Ohio, including the Hollywood Casino in Toledo.
Barstool Wholly Owned by Penn
In August, Penn completed its acquisition of Barstool Sports, the online media site founded by Dave Portnoy, after the Pennsylvania-based company bought a 36% stake in it two years ago. The reported price of the deal was $387 million.
The Barstool show took place near the university’s football stadium. Video posted on Twitter showed a throng of college-age individuals in attendance as the show was about to start.
Almost showtime pic.twitter.com/i9yoN9gOhL
— Barstool College Football Show (@BarstoolCFB) November 15, 2022
After the OCCC meeting, Penn Entertainment provided the following statement: “We look forward to the opportunity to address this directly with the Ohio Casino Control Commission through its regulatory process. Other than that, we do not comment on pending regulatory matters.”
Promotion ‘At Odds’ With Responsible Gaming
OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler informed the commissioners of the staff’s findings at Wednesday’s meeting.
Responsible gaming should be the cornerstone of any gaming business,” he said. “This apparent direct promotion to college students is completely at odds with responsible gaming and the law.”
Penn may request a hearing on the matter and has 30 days from the date of the notice to do so.
The money will go into the state’s general fund if the fine is upheld.
The OCCC is also requesting Penn Sports to ensure all of its staff and representatives are trained in accordance with Ohio law regarding advertising and promotion guidelines.
Responsible gaming advocates heralded the commission’s decision.
“I think that speaks to how closely (OH sports betting) will be monitored and how the commission wasn’t going to allow for getting outside the lines,” Derek Longmeier, executive director for the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio told Casino.org after the meeting.
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