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Ohio Cracks Down on Sports Betting Advertising

Published: March 27, 2023

Sports betting advertisements are now appearing everywhere in Ohio: on television, on billboards, and even on your smartphone. The tide of advertisements is coming at the same time as problem gambling experts across the state express concerns about a rise in the number of people experiencing problem gambling. That’s why, in addition to promoting responsible betting practices, Ohio has recently emerged as a national leader in betting advertising regulation. 

Advocates and experts have been concerned about a possible rise in people experiencing a problem with gambling since before the start of legal sports betting in the state, and that concern has only grown. With betting now available to a bigger audience than ever before because of phone apps and online platforms, more people are engaging with gambling for the first time. Often, they are placing bets quickly and easily, which can result in a pattern of chasing losses that can put them at risk for developing a problem with gambling. 

Many people are also attracted to betting apps through advertisements, which in Ohio can’t be targeted at young people and must include responsible gambling information, like a helpline number, in a prominent place. To ensure that those standards are enforced, the state is already taking action. In January, several sportsbook operators were notified that their ads went against Ohio guidelines, which could result in $150,000 fines. And before betting even launched, one operator was fined $350,000 for mailing thousands of advertisements to individuals under 21. 

“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law,” Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler said in a note to betting stakeholders in the state. “These repeated violations leave the Commission no choice but to pursue administrative action to bring operators into compliance. The Commission takes responsible gambling seriously – and expects the industry to value the same.”

As Ohio continues to experience more and more sports betting advertising, getting the word out about responsible betting and gambling practices is growing in importance. If you or your organization want to get involved, access these resources:

  • Ohio’s Problem Gambling Helpline Toolkit: Ohio’s free 24/7 Problem Gambling Helpline is an invaluable resource to make sure that people can access help when they need it. To promote the Helpline, Before You Bet has assembled a toolkit of resources that includes advertisements, fliers, posters, and more for use by community organizations. Helpline calls are answered by trained and understanding specialists who can offer free and confidential support 24/7 at 1-800-589-9966 or by texting 4HOPE to 741741. 
  • Pause Before You Play Campaign: This sub-campaign of Before You Bet raises awareness about ways to engage in sports betting responsibly by setting limits, recognizing the risks, and knowing when to stop. It features fast-paced sports imagery that feels familiar for sports fans and encourages them to take a pause before placing quick bets. A web page of information about responsible betting is available, in addition to fliers and a PSA to share by community groups. 

Looking for additional help and resources? Before You Bet provides listings for free treatment organizations, programs, and support groups across the entire state, as well as toolkits that can be used to communicate the value of responsible gambling to local audiences of all kinds. Access the Get Help page to find online listings for support groups, financial education resources, and more, and the Community Toolkit page to access toolkits for seniors, veterans, and other audiences. 

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