As the Bluegrass State gets ready to launch Kentucky sports betting, one part of the law passed by the General Assembly in late March is drawing scrutiny from a gaming regulator in a neighboring state.
In an interview with Cincinnati TV station WCPO, Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler said he believes the state erred in setting the legal age to wager on Kentucky sports betting apps at 18.
“I absolutely hate the idea that individuals under 21 can go across the border, open an account and bet,” said Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. “I think it’s horrible.”
Schuler said research shows the people most vulnerable to gambling problems are men aged 18 to 35 and that younger people in that group are still in development stages and cannot “thoroughly process the consequences of their actions.”
Kentucky state Rep. Michael Meredith, the lead sponsor of House Bill 551, told BetKentucky Wednesday there had been discussions as the legislation was crafted about whether the age should be set at 18 or 21. Ultimately, the decision was made to set the limit at the same age as betting on horse racing or buying a lottery ticket in the Bluegrass State.
“My goal with all of that was to bring people out of the shadows of illegal, unregulated gambling and bring them into the regulated marketplace,” Meredith said.
While Ohio set the sports betting age at 21, the same age limit as the state’s casinos, Kentucky’s neighbor still permits 18-year-olds to buy lottery tickets, wager at a track or play with licensed fantasy sports operators. Schuler, though, told WCPO the limit on legal gambling should be 21in the state.
Ohio Cracks Down on Targeting Underage Bettors
Even before sports betting officially launched in Ohio on Jan. 1, Schuler and the OCCC took several steps to limit the exposure to sports betting for those underaged. That includes prohibiting sports betting operators from promoting their brands on college campuses. Last December, the commission cited Penn Sports Interactive after Barstool Sports held a college football show on the campus of the University of Toledo and promoted the Barstool Sportsbook app during it. That led to the operator paying a $250,000 fine.
Barstool Sportsbook is rebranding to ESPN BET and is expected to launch in the fall.
DraftKings was fined $350,000 after more than 2,000 mailers promoting its sports betting app were mailed to underage recipients in the state. A good note for Kentucky DraftKings sportsbook heading into the launch.
Other States Have 18-Year-Old Limit
Kentucky is not the only state that allows 18-year-olds to sign up for sports betting accounts.
New Hampshire, where DraftKings has a contract with the state’s lottery, allows people to start wagering at 18. DraftKings also allows 18-year-olds to bet in Wyoming. That’s the minimum age, but other operators in the state restrict those under 21 from registering.
It’s also the age limit in Rhode Island, where Bally’s operates the state’s sportsbooks.
Lotteries in Washington, D.C. and Montana also accept sports wagers from 18-year-olds, and Washington state allows those 18 and up to play in tribal casinos.
So far, only one operator has announced their plans to launch in Kentucky, and that company will not allow anyone under 21 to participate.
Kentucky Caesars Sportsbook plans to partner with Keeneland and Red Mile Racing and Gaming, pending approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. In the joint statement, Caesars said it recently enacted a new policy that only allows those 21 and older to register for their player reward accounts and participate in any gaming offering.
Learn more about all of the Kentucky sports betting promos coming to the Bluegrass State in September.