Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Bans “Free Bet” From Sportsbooks Marketing

Derek Blake pic
Derek Blake


  • PGCB banned the use of “free bet” in marketing materials for state’s sportsbooks
  • Other terms banned include “risk-free bet” and “free play”
  • Ohio recently fined sportsbooks $150,000 for using “free bet” in marketing

To clarify and remove any possible confusion for Pennsylvania bettors, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board told the state’s sportsbooks they can no longer use the term “free bet” in their marketing to PA sports betting fans.

The PGCB takes the lead of Ohio and Massachusetts, two states that offer sports betting and previously banned the term for online and physical sports books. 

Pennsylvania’s top sportsbooks, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, have moved to using phrases such as “free credit” and “no sweat” to tout bonuses and other special wagers offered through their apps and websites. 

In the email, the PGCB wrote to the state’s operators, “At the direction of Executive Director Kevin O’Toole, we would like to request that you revise the promotional terms and conditions AND all applicable advertising to remove references to “free bet,” “risk free bet,” “free play” or any other similar language which infers that a promotional offer is free when it actually is not.”

Ohio’s Recent Sportsbook Crackdown Fuels PGCB Decsion

In Ohio, the state’s Casino Control Commission recently fined DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook a whopping $150,000 each for violating the edict that bans the use of “free” or “risk-free” betting. While Pennsylvania has yet to fine the same sportsbooks, the email sets the stage if the state’s operators fail to adhere to the new policy.

The email also comes days after Barstool Sportsbook offered a “Can’t Lose Parlay” promotion in Massachusetts forcing the state’s Gaming Commission to make a ruling on the legality of the marketing materials.

In Pennsylvania, the PGCB witnessed several sportsbooks changing their language toward players on their own, but the email offered a chance to create a level of solidarity when it comes to how the sportsbooks market their promotional wagers.

“We saw a number of the providers changing how they approach this on their own, and we thought it best if we could get everyone on the same page,” the email continued. “The thinking was let’s try to make sure we can get this consistent across the industry.”

Derek Blake is a freelance writer that has covered the expansion of legal sports betting in America and the regional casino business for several well-known industry websites. During his writing career, he has written profiles on dozens of athletes and focused on the collision of sports and politics.