Ohio Bans College Sports Prop Bets

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The Ohio Casino Control Commission this week announced it is banning sportsbooks in the state from offering proposition bets on individual players in college sports matches.

The move comes three weeks after National Collegiate Athletic Association President Charlie Baker sent an open letter to the regulator requesting the ban, which was supported by Ohio governor Mike DeWine.

The Commission clearly agreed that such proposition bets resulted in increased abuse from bettors directed at college athletes.

That came despite eight Ohio sports betting operators writing their own open letter opposing the change.

Sportsbooks now have until March 1 to remove the prohibited wagers from their platforms

“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,” Baker said.

“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.”

Market Bans

The Buckeye State joins some 20 others that also have prohibitions on college sports betting in various forms. Some have banned the whole market, while others have prohibited wagers on in-state games or certain wager types.

Such player prop bets made up around 1% of all bets wagered in Ohio in 2023, or about $100 million out of $7.65 billion in total handle.

Ohio Casino Control Commission Chair Matthew T. Schuler justified his decision to ban the bets, speaking on Friday.

He said that operators did not counter the argument that banning athlete specific prop wagers would improve mental health and well-being among college sports players.

Schuler also disagreed with the sportsbooks’ prediction that bettors would just head to offshore sportsbooks to place these bets.

“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,” Schuler wrote.

He is definitely right about there being little-to-no statistical data on the overlap between offshore and legal sports betting customers. But that’s mainly because of little research or open data from the offshore operators.

However, the plethora of prop betting options are a well understood attraction of offshore sportsbooks, which aren’t under regulatory scrutiny on what lines they offer.

One study this week said that 77% of football betting action on February’s Super Bowl LVIII was at offshore ‘books – despite the event being held for the first time in the betting mecca of Las Vegas.

Best Interests

Back in Ohio, this move will be a big victory for NCAA President Baker. He may well see it as testing the waters for wider legislation on the issue of college sports and betting, with the NCAA conducting several studies on the topic last year.

The Buckeye State has been one of the most proactive on the issue. College sports teams in the state have publicly complained about harassment from sports bettors aimed at college athletes since at least 2021.

As well as this latest rule change on player specific prop bets, the state last year introduced legislation to enable the OCCC to ban abusive bettors from wagering at any sportsbooks in the state.

“I have determined that good cause supports the NCAA’s request to prohibit player-specific prop bets on intercollegiate athletics competitions because the NCAA’s request will safeguard the integrity of sports gaming and will be in the best interest of the public,” Schuler wrote in his latest decision.

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