Ohio Regulator Bans College Player Prop Bets

February 26, 2024
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Ohio’s gaming regulator has approved a request from the National Collegiate Athletic Administration to prohibit player proposition bets on collegiate sports.
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Ohio’s gaming regulator approved a request on Friday (February 23) from the National Collegiate Athletic Administration (NCAA) to prohibit player proposition bets on collegiate sports.

Under the new policy set by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which takes effect immediately, any bet on an individual athlete’s performance or statistics for an NCAA sporting event would not be permitted, and full team proposition bets would only be permitted if the wager is historically determined by at least two players in more than 50 percent of outcomes.

Prohibited bet types would include a bet on a team’s passing yards in a football game, as that statistic would typically only include the starting quarterback.

Matt Schuler, executive director of the commission, said Friday that he believed granting the NCAA’s request to remove the bets from the state’s wagering catalog “will safeguard the integrity of sports gaming and will be in the best interests of the public.”

One cited reason for the rule is to decrease instances of social media harassment and threats made against college athletes, which the NCAA has argued can often be caused by specific player props.

“Based upon the information the NCAA provided, it is apparent to me that player-specific prop bets may be directly related to player-specific harassment, including threats — meaning a decrease in the availability of these types of wagers could lead to a decrease in harassment,” Schuler wrote.

“Standing alone this logical and fact-based determination constitutes good cause to approve the NCAA’s request.”

Upon receiving the request from the NCAA earlier this month, Schuler asked Ohio sports-betting operators to submit data on what impact banning the proposition bets would have.

In his six-page decision, Schuler noted that player-specific proposition bets accounted for less than 1.4 percent of the state’s sports-betting revenue and the number of wagers in 2023, while putting students at increased risk for harassment by attaching their name to the bet.

“Moreover, it is likely that many bettors will simply bet on other offerings if player-specific prop bets are not available, negating some, if not all, of the revenue impact,” Schuler said.

Schuler also said that comments from operators in favor of keeping the player props were not persuasive.

“Even assuming that the sports gaming companies are adept at investigating their customers who harass college athletes and taking appropriate actions required by law, these efforts occur after the harassment has occurred, whereas the NCAA’s request endeavors to stop the harassment from occurring at all,” he wrote.

Ohio's chief regulator was also not convinced by operators’ arguments that not offering the bets in the regulated market would drive players to unregulated offerings.

“The operators are assuming that all those in the market to make these bets will go to illegal operators or bookmakers to place bets if the NCAA’s request is approved. The operators failed to provide any factual basis to support this assumption.

“While some may revert to illegal operations, the vast majority of Ohioans engage only in legal gambling activity,” Schuler continued.

“Given the relatively small percentage of wagers placed on player-specific prop bets, I perceive the risk of a black market boom to be low.”

Finally, Schuler argued that the NCAA was in “the best position to determine threats” to its gaming integrity and risks to athletes.

By prohibiting the bets, he said, student-athlete well-being would be improved, as well as decreasing risks of athletes being solicited for inside information, game manipulation and players being enticed to bet on their performance.

“Today's decision by the Ohio Casino Control Commission to prohibit player-specific prop bets on collegiate competitions marks a significant step in the protection of student-athlete well-being and game integrity,” NCAA president Charlie Baker said in a statement. 

“I thank the commission for recognizing the serious threats posed by prop bets and implementing controls to help safeguard student-athlete mental health from the risks of sports-betting harassment and abuse.”

In addition to the NCAA, the prohibition was backed by Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine.

“The Ohio Casino Control Commission took quick action to protect student-athletes from unnecessary and potentially harmful threats,” DeWine said in a statement. “Amending rules to focus bets on the team and away from individual athletes will improve the marketplace in Ohio and properly focus betting attention on the teams and away from individual student-athletes.”

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