COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With a little more than two weeks until legalized sports gambling officially kicks off in Ohio, one licensed sportsbook is already staring at a potential fine.
Penn Entertainment, the parent company of Barstool Sports, could owe $250,000 for an advertisement that the Ohio Casino Control Commission said violates Ohio’s sports wagering laws.
The alleged violation stems from an episode of Barstool’s College Football show, which was recorded on the University of Toledo’s campus Nov. 15 before a game against Bowling Green State University.
About 35 minutes into the episode — to the cheers of an audience of mostly college students — one host flipped the conversation to pre-registration for Penn’s Barstool Sportsbook, which will offer online gambling in Ohio starting Jan. 1.
Matt Schuler, the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, said Wednesday the commission didn’t take issue with the show itself.
“Barstool was doing its normal football show, which is fine by the way,” Schuler said in an interview with NBC4. “It was the break to do the advertisement in front of 700 college students on the university campus. That was the transgression. We take that very seriously. We don’t put rules in place for nothing.”
Ohio prohibits anyone under 21, the age demographic largely populating college campuses, from placing a bet on sports. The New York Times has previously reported that Penn has made a presence for itself on college campuses.
Penn said, in a statement, that it will address the alleged violation directly with the commission.
“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,” a Penn spokesperson wrote in an email statement.
Penn can either request a hearing or settle the matter directly with the commission. Either way, Schuler said the commission will vote on the final outcome, which could result in the $250,000 fine.
But the alleged violation and looming fine doesn’t bar Penn from participating in sports gambling starting Jan. 1. Its license is still valid and Barstool Sportsbook will still be eligible for launch.