- Laura A. Bischoff Columbus bureau
On Tuesday, the Ohio House voted 86-3 to let the Ohio Casino Control Commission regulate fantasy sports betting. The vote now sends the bill to Gov. John Kasich. If he signs it, it would legalize fantasy sports gambling in the state.
Earlier story: Fantasy sports contests played by thousands of Ohioans may soon be regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission after a bill passed the Ohio Senate on a 25-4 vote Wednesday.
House Bill 132, which already passed the House, would exempt the games from Ohio’s gambling laws but place them under Casino Control Commission oversight. If the bill becomes law, the commission would adopt rules. The bill would ban fantasy contests based on youth or college sports and bar operators from advertising to minors.
More than 57 million people in the U.S. and Canada participate in both daily and season-long fantasy sports.
House Bill 132 would declare the fantasy sports betting legal and assign the Ohio Casino Control Commission the duty to regulate the industry. It would prohibit players under age 18, bar betting on college or high school sports, require operators get state licenses, identify how many entries a player can submit and mandate online security and privacy measures.
Fantasy sports websites operate contests in two ways: no fees and no prizes for the winners or entry fees and cash prizes for the winners. FanDuel and DraftKings — the two biggest operators — retain a percentage of the fees, depending on what kind of contest it is.
House Bill 132 is supported by the Cleveland Indians, Columbus Crew and Cincinnati Reds as well as the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
Peter Schoenke, chairman of the association, said in testimony on the bill that the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS are investors in Fanduel or DraftKings. Clarifying Ohio law to state that fantasy sports are a game of skill and legal will help eliminate uncertainty, he said.
Schoenke estimates that just under 1.9 million Ohioans participate in fantasy sports contests each year.
“States have shown that fantasy sports is an activity that can be regulated to ensure a fair and balanced playing field. Sixteen states have passed laws clarifying that fantasy sports are legal games of skill,” he said in testimony.