Could Michigan Sportsbooks Ever Face Fines Similar To Their Ohio Counterparts?

Written By Drew Ellis on January 11, 2023
Ohio sports betting fines. Ohio sportsbook fines.

As a new year began on Jan. 1, legal sports betting in Ohio was launched.

Michigan’s neighbor to the southeast has been off to the races since midnight struck the beginning of 2023.

With the good, has come some bad. Some high-profile operators have faced lofty fines in the opening week.

As Ohio is dishing out six-figure penalties, it begs the question of how Michigan handles similar situations.

BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings face fines in Ohio

Just a few days into launch, the Ohio Casino Control Commission handed out six-figure fines against three major names in the sports betting industry.

BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings were all deemed to have violated rules surrounding advertising and promotion.

According to the OCCC, the three operators allegedly ran ads that failed to adhere to properly displaying responsible gambling messaging in their advertising. That includes displaying a problem gambling helpline in their ads.

The operators also used the terms “free” or “risk-free” as part of promotional offers to new customers. Those terms are prohibited by the OCCC for advertising purposes.

“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law,” said OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler in a press release. “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.”

The commission is seeking a $150,000 fine for each company.

In the case of DraftKings, it would be its second six-figure fine already since launch. It is subject to a $350,000 fine for mailing advertisements to individuals under the age of 21.

How does the MGCB handle sportsbook and casino fines?

As Ohio has set standard fine amounts for their violations, the Michigan Gaming Control Board has a slightly different approach.

“The rules associated with the Lawful Internet Gaming Act and Lawful Sports Betting Act say the MGCB has general responsibility for the implementation of the acts, including revoking or suspending licenses and registrations, and imposing fines as the board considers necessary and in compliance with applicable laws of this state,” said MGCB Communications Specialist Mary Kay Bean.

The MGCB doesn’t have a set list of what each violation requires for a fine. It takes each violation on a case-by-case basis and allows it to be handled by the Board.

“LIGA and LSBA and the associated rules do not specify fine amounts. Following an investigation of an alleged violation, the MGCB executive director would recommend to the Board an appropriate fine based on the licensee’s action. The Board would vote on the recommendation at a public meeting,” Bean added.

There have been few public violation reports released by the MGCB since online gambling launched in January of 2021.

Most recent public violations and fines are related to the MGCB’s efforts to crackdown on illegal gambling throughout the state.

The last notable fines by the MGCB to a gambling operator came in September of 2015. At that time, the MGCB ordered Greektown Casino, LLC to pay $529,500 in fines for 25 violations that had occurred between 2010-14.

When does the MGCB hold its meetings?

The MGCB holds six public board meetings each year. They typically take place on the second Tuesday of every month. Each meeting starts at 9:30 a.m.

During each meeting, the MGCB will grant supplier and operator licenses, as well as approval of new key persons to those licensed companies and organizations.

The board meetings are also where the MGCB will acknowledge any potential violations by a licensed operation or worker.

Details of the violations are not made public. Reports of the violation are supplied to the board members that they then review and determine proper punishment, if any.

Upcoming board meetings in 2023 are scheduled for:

  • Feb. 21
  • April 11
  • June 13
  • Aug. 8

Meetings can be attended in person or virtually through Zoom. Each meeting is located in Cadillac Place at 3062 West Grand Boulevard, Suite L-700, Detroit, MI 48202.

The MGCB will supply a meeting agenda the day prior to the meeting on their website.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of PlayILottery.com. He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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