Ohio Governor Proposes 20% Tax on Sports Betting, Possible Promotional Bonus Restrictions for Offenders

Sports gambling in Ohio has been available for only six weeks, yet Governor Mike DeWine has proposed comprehensive changes. Among the items included in his proposed two-year budget are an increase in the taxation rate to 20%, the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) to be able to deny any person from placing bets who threatens athletes, and possibly taking away the ability of sportsbooks to provide promotional credits should they violate the rules.

In response to the Governor’s budget, Dan Tierney, DeWine’s Press Secretary, stated to Casino.org that the package of reforms would promote a marketplace where the laws and the spirit of the law are better followed. However, it is yet to be seen whether state lawmakers will accept DeWine’s recommendations.

The OCCC has already declared five violations by four operators and has demanded fines. Caesars Sportsbook has agreed to pay a $150,000 fine for not including a noticeable message to prevent problem gambling behaviors in the advertisements posted by a third-party affiliate. BetMGM and DraftKings have also been fined $150,000 each for similar infractions, with DraftKings facing a further $350,000 fine for mailing out promotional mailers to more than 2,000 Ohioans under the age of 21. Penn Sports Interactive has also been fined $250,000 for Barstool Sports personalities endorsing the Barstool Sportsbook during a college football show at the University of Toledo in November.

In the budget proposal, Governor DeWine is looking to ensure that any “free or risk-free” credits provided by sportsbooks do not require bettors to make a deposit or risk their funds to use or withdraw winnings. Any operators that do not comply with this rule would be subject to penalties from the OCCC, including a possible ban on providing promotional credits or bonuses.

After sports betting became legitimate in Ohio, University of Dayton men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant expressed his concern that sports bettors were targeting his players following a Flyers loss. In response, Matt Schuler, OCCC Executive Director, called for the commission to consider preventing individuals from betting in the state if they threaten athletes. The budget proposal by Governor DeWine would permit the sports betting exclusion list to include “any person who threatens violence or harm against any person who is involved in a sporting event, where the threat is related to sports gaming.”

It appears unlikely for the 20%