Ohio Gaming Regulators Discuss Pete Rose and Student Protection

June Taylor has a lot to do before she sits in her living room on New Year’s Eve, waiting for the clock and calendar to change to 2023 and hoping her phone doesn’t ring.

One of those things is not to worry about the visuals of Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, which posits Pete Rose as its prominent first bettor when online and retail sportsbooks kick off at 12:01 AM in Ohio. This is not under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, or Taylor, his chair.

That’s not to say Taylor didn’t have any thoughts when she learned the casino would be celebrating the launch of a legal sportsbook market with a player who remains banned from the Hall of Fame for betting on baseball games while manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

“I say for us it was just a ‘so-noted’ Wait a minute,” Taylor told Gaming Today at the National Council of Legislators of Gaming States conference last week. “It doesn’t affect our regulations and stuff like that. We’re really looking at what the operators are doing, but we’re really focusing on the integrity of our work on the rules and whatnot, and their guests and their VIP choices for marketing can be…interesting.”

Rose is said to be joined by several other former Reds players and current Bengals running back Joe Mixon is also said to be hosting a party at the hotel at the same time. Bengals Hall of Famer Antony Munoz is among the VIPs at the sports betting event.

But Rose is the star, with an asterisk. He’s still popular in Ohio, but the all-time hit-leader was recently caught amid his bid to qualify for induction into the Hall of Fame and his numerous dark chapters, including an admission that he found out about a bookie on the Reds bet as their manager, rebuffed , adds a whiff to the debut of a legal, regulated market.

“This is one of my favorite sayings,” Andromeda Morrison, OCCC’s General Counsel and Director of Skill Games, told Gaming Today. “The Commission is not necessarily the arbiter of good taste or good judgment.”

Ohio Gaming Regulators Launch Sports Betting

But the OCCC is the referee about virtually every other aspect of the upcoming launch. With just over three weeks until the scheduled launch, Gaming Today has received an update on Ohio’s readiness.

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How many online apps will be available for Ohio sports betting launch?

ANDROMEDA MORRISON: There will probably be around a dozen online operators. And then maybe about the same amount of physical sports betting in casinos, sports (facilities) and so on. And then there will be a variety of kiosk locations operated by the Ohio Lottery Commission.

How Will Ohio Sports Betting Laws Protect Vulnerable Ohioans?

JUNE TAYLOR: Let me talk a little bit about our state: We are a state deeply focused on protecting the vulnerable. We’re passionate about it – if you look at responsible gaming and what we’ve put together from the perspective of having a fund to support, resources, and now we have Cuyahoga County Judge Brendan Sheehan, who essentially has a gambling court.

We’ve built an infrastructure to really, I think from a nationwide perspective, to provide the resources to help those who may be impacted, those who are at risk, those who also want to self-exclude. This is a big component and relates to the operators.

I think we’ve been more communicative than ever about our expectations of the rules. And I think we’ve made that point time and time again, not just in our meetings but also in one-on-ones when we consult with the operators, I would say we always remind them gently and kindly, and we really await each other to comply with the applicable rules.

ANDROMEDA MORRISON: Just to build on what Chairman Taylor said there, the Commission included a specific prohibition in our advertising standards to prohibit advertising on or targeted to college campuses to address some of the concerns in the industry. And so we certainly learn from the advantage of coming in a little later than some of the other states.

[We’re] Educating the industry about these requirements, what the commission expects, and then taking responsibility when they fail to meet those expectations.

What are the advertising restrictions around college campuses?

ANDROMEDA MORRISON: We continue to work with operators to define or provide these specific guidelines. There are some things – billboards that you will see when you drive to campus or to football games, radio or television advertisements that might be (accessible) on campus – (that) are viewed differently than the student radio station, the student newspaper.

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An ad that is directly on campus or directly targeted to an area that is easily and prominently available on campus will be considered by the Commission with much more care than these other types of widely available forms of ads.

Can College Sports Programs Take on Sports Betting Partners?

ANDROMEDA MORRISON: Nothing would prevent the college from reaching an agreement, but there would be advertising bans on this operator.

So if you can’t advertise at Ohio Stadium, for example, I don’t think it’s that financially viable for those companies to partner with Ohio colleges.

Was it helpful to watch neighboring states legalize sports betting before Ohio?

JUNE TAYLOR: It really helped. And you also saw at this conference that we have great relations with other countries. We share information. I think Ohio has taken a lesson learned approach and seen what other states have done. We’ve also looked at the industry, how the industry has changed since sports betting was also adopted in some of these states, considering the pros and cons and the addition and use of technology and innovation that could benefit.

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