Amid all the goodwill currently being felt in Ohio after the long-awaited launch of sports betting in the state, one of the sportsbooks offering its services to Ohioans has already blotted its copybook in the eyes of legislators. Before a single platform went live, DraftKings had already broken one of the laws laid down in the meticulously-written rulebook, and has as a result incurred an initial fine of $350,000 pending appeal.
The breach of law is understood to pertain to a marketing mailout sent by the sports betting giant. On Friday December 30th, it was revealed that DraftKings had sent thousands of mailshots to Ohio residents under the age of 21. That is the minimum legal age for gambling in the Buckeye state, and it is not permitted to promote betting services to anyone younger than that. While DraftKings is not understood to have permitted anyone below that age to have signed up or placed bets, it’s not an ideal start to their time as an Ohio sportsbook.
The breach was revealed by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which is responsible for sports betting legislation in the state. DraftKings is believed to have sent the advertising material to 2,500 individuals under the legal betting age. The finding can be legally challenged by the sportsbook, but the OCCC retains the final say in whether the punishment stands. As of the present moment, DraftKings has made no comment on the fine or the marketing campaign.
In addition to the fine which has been laid down, the OCCC will require the bookmaker to demonstrate that it has taken measures to prevent a repeat of the breach in future marketing campaigns. Although the sending of promotional material is clearly a lesser breach compared to actually permitting underage individuals to bet, and this punishment is standard for a first offense, DraftKings will be expected to show contrition and act in keeping with what the regulators hope will be a positive launch for betting in Ohio.
It’s not the first time the popular sportsbook has run into trouble with regulators, with a number of its previous breaches also pertaining to gambling advertisements. In 2021 they were fined $ 10,000 by the state of New Jersey for sending materials to 11 bettors who had self-excluded in an attempt to overcome problem gambling, while July 2022 saw them fined CA$ 100,000 in Ontario when they advertised odds boosts repeatedly, in contravention of Ontario’s ban on publicly advertising betting promos. New Jersey had also fined the sportsbook a six-figure sum for allowing a Florida resident to repeatedly place bets in the Garden State via a proxy.
The OCCC retains the right to revoke licenses from sportsbooks and it will no doubt remind DraftKings representatives that this is the case. Although it would be unusual to implement this punishment for advertising offenses alone, DraftKings will be well-advised to avoid making the same mistake repeatedly in a state which has an interest in making sports betting work.