Barstool Sports Ohio Fined $250k for Advertising at University of Toledo Campus

  • Barstool sports promoting its sportsbook during a show on campus
  • Ohio sports betting will launch for the first time on New Year's Day
  • Barstool received its Ohio sports betting license in mid-September
  • Barstool has been caught in a number of snafus over the past month
Ohio and American flags
Barstool Sports was fined $250,000 for promoting its sportsbook on a college campus. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Two major violations

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) fined Barstool Sports for illegally marketing its Barstool Sportsbook during a November 15 campus event at the University of Toledo.

violated two gambling regulations regarding to whom and where it can advertise

According to the commission, Barstool violated two gambling regulations regarding to whom and where it can advertise services. In promoting its sportsbook to a predominantly under-21 crowd and by broadcasting from a college campus, Barstool became punishable by hefty fines totaling $250,000.

Barstool majority owner, Penn Entertainment, has 30 days to respond to the penalty or request a meeting. 

Barstool Ohio breached campus standards 

The event took place in the middle of November at the University of Toledo’s grounds. Barstool aired the “Barstool Tailgate Show,” discussing a variety of topics, including Toledo’s upcoming rivalry game with Bowling Green University.

In between previewing the matchup and diving into a variety of other subject matter, show hosts mentioned the Barstool Sportsbook and its intricacies and offerings, directly violating Ohio law. 

we do take responsible gambling very serious here at the commission”

“They were encouraging folks to preregister; they were advertising the Sportsbook,” said OCCC communications director Jessica Franks. “We do take responsible gambling very serious here at the commission, especially the fact that sports gaming hasn’t even officially launched; we do take this very seriously. We do not actively seek out to fine or sanction companies.”

Ohio is making its final preparations for the launch of its sports betting market on January 1, 2023. Governor Mike DeWine signed off on legislation in December 2021, and the state—led by the OCCC—has spent the time since creating the proper infrastructure, vetting license applications, and ultimately deciding which entities will be able to offer gambling services.

Barstool received its license in September, alongside FanDuel, Caesars, and several local professional sports teams. The company’s infraction at Toledo will not jeopardize its status as a license holder, but could subject it to harsher penalties in the future.

Trouble across the country

The OCCC is focused on maintaining order as its betting market prepares to explode in a couple of weeks. Following that intent, the regulator has suggested that it may not be done with Barstool after the quarter-of-a-million-dollar fine.

a known rule about advertising on college campuses”

“Our goal is compliance,” said Franks. “It’s only when we have very egregious or repeated violations that we will seek some kind of monetary sanction to underscore the seriousness. The fact it was a violation of a known rule about advertising on college campuses—that fine may not be the final fine.”

The OCCC will not punish the University of Toledo after finding the illicit promo was entirely a Barstool-motivated decision.

The news comes at a tumultuous time for Barstool. A couple of weeks ago, The New York Times published a piece attacking founder Dave Portnoy for being a “degenerate gambler,” among other raunchy titles. 

The piece, combined with Portnoy’s history of splitting opinion, also caused the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to stall the approval of Plainridge Park Casino’s betting license due to its ties with Barstool.
There has also been a push to kick sports betting operators off of college campuses. US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) last month wrote a letter to Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg in which he pleaded for college students to be excluded from sportsbooks’ target audience.