Ohio Could Ban College Sports Prop Wagers

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has teamed with Ohio governor Mike DeWine in encouraging the state’s gambling regulator to ban prop bets on college sports.

In a recent letter to the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OHCC), DeWine and NCAA President Charlie Baker outlined the reasoning behind their ban proposal.

They cited a pair of 2023 NCAA studies that showed increasing levels of online and offline abuse aimed at college athletes, often from angry sports bettors.

The two influential figures believe that banning prop betting from the Ohio sports betting market will take the heat off individual athletes’ performances.

“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,” said Governor DeWine.

“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.”

Data is Clear, Baker Says

The NCAA commissioned two extensive studies into sports betting in 2023. One spoke to college athletes and administrators about sports betting on campus, including questions on athlete harassment.

It found that 25% of respondents were aware of harassment or abuse aimed at athletes from angry sports bettors.

The second used data analysis firm Signify to look at levels of online abuse and its correlation with betting interests.

Now, Baker believes the numbers are in and the NCAA needs to act. Ohio has been at the forefront of this issue before, giving regulators the power to ban abusive bettors from sportsbooks in the state. So, it’s clear that the NCAA and DeWine see eye to eye on this issue, making it a tactical choice to test the waters on appetite for legislation nationally.

“The data is clear that student-athletes are getting harassed by bettors. 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,” said Baker in the joint statement.

“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.”

Wider Support from Colleges

As well as DeWine and Baker, the letter to the OCCM also outlined support from various university teams and staff in the state.

That included University of Dayton Director of Athletics Neil Sullivan and Gene Smith, SVP and Wolfe Foundation-Eugene Smith athletics director.

“We support any action that aims to protect students and their families from inexcusable abuse and threats. We applaud Governor Mike DeWine and President Charlie Baker for engaging in this important conversation,” said Sullivan.

The Casino Control Commission replied last week, saying it would consider the request. If granted, any proposition bet based on an athlete’s individual performance, or a team bet that relies more than 50% on one individual, would be banned from the Ohio market.

The proposal gave the example of betting on Team A to gain over 200 passing yards as one that would predominantly rely on the performance of one player, which, in this example, would be the quarterback.

State Differences

Interestingly, while Ohio may be on the verge of rolling back college sports betting options, other states are looking to expand the market. Sports betting in Virginia could soon open up to betting on in-state college teams if one lawmaker has his way.

Virginia State Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg (D-72) last month introduced a bill aiming to legalize in-state betting on Virginia college sports teams like the Virginia State Cavaliers.

VanValkenburg reasoned that bettors already travel across state lines to use Kentucky sports betting platforms to wager on Virginia teams, costing the state tax dollars.

“You can ban it, but people are still going to do it,” VanValkenburg said, speaking last month. “The fear that this is going to corrupt or put pressure on Virginia athletes, that’s already there. We’re already living in that world.”

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