Ohio’s governor and the National Collegiate Athletic Administration (NCAA) are pushing for the state to restrict proposition betting on college sports, citing ongoing concerns over gambling-related harassment of the players.
In a statement, Republican Governor Mike DeWine and NCAA president Charlie Baker said they both supported changes to the state’s sports-betting rules that would remove proposition bets on college sports from the state’s catalog of permitted wagers.
Ohio is perhaps the most aggressive state in taking a stance against harassment of student-athletes, with the legislature adopting a new law last year that mandates the Ohio Casino Control Commission to place anyone convicted of harassing a collegiate athlete for gambling reasons on the involuntary exclusion list.
“One year into sports gambling in Ohio, we have seen a marketplace develop where a number of bad actors have engaged in unacceptable behavior by making threats against student-athletes in Ohio and across the country,” DeWine said in a statement.
“By amending rules to focus bets on the team and away from individual athletes, I believe we can improve the marketplace in Ohio and better protect student-athletes from unnecessary and potentially harmful threats.”
For the NCAA, the effort in Ohio makes good on its promise ramp lobbying efforts on a number of gambling-related issues, including athlete harassment, via amendments to sports-betting regulations.
The governing body for collegiate sports in the U.S. sent a letter on January 31 requesting the removal of the bets from the wagering catalog, utilizing provisions in Ohio law, and common in other states, that allows a sports governing body to request that certain wager types be restricted.
“The data is clear that student-athletes are getting harassed by bettors,” said Baker. “Sports betting without appropriate controls poses real risks to the well-being of student-athletes and to the integrity of collegiate competition — risks which are heightened by individual prop bets.”
“On behalf of the thousands of student-athletes, administrators and game officials in Ohio, I thank Governor DeWine for acting quickly to protect student-athletes and game integrity while responsibly regulating the growing sports-betting industry in Ohio.”
In a statement Friday (February 2), the Ohio Casino Control Commission acknowledged the request, and said it has notified sports gaming operators to submit comments on the issue.
A draft criteria the commission sent to operators for consideration would prohibit “any proposition bet … on an individual athlete’s performance or statistics” or any full team proposition bet that “would on average depend 50 percent or more on the statistical performance of one or two athletes on the team to determine the outcome.”
In the letter requesting comment, the commission also requested data to assess the impact of the potential changes, including how much of operators’ wagering catalog that would no long be permitted if the request was granted, as well as the total percentage of wagers that would have been prohibited in 2023 and total betting handle in 2023 on those wagers.
Industry comments will be accepted through February 12.
It remains to be seen whether the NCAA's request in Ohio will be replicated in those other states that allow sports governing bodies to file similar petitions and where single-athlete prop bets on college sports are not already prohibited.
A number of states including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia already have formal regulations that prohibit the offering of prop bets on college athletes, according to Vixio GamblingCompliance research. No formal restriction is in place in other states with legal sports betting, however.