Ohio Legislators Mull Regulations for Fantasy Sports

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)


COLUMBUS — With more than 57 million players in the U.S. and Canada, the industry around fantasy sports betting is putting on a full court press to get Ohio and other states to declare their industry legal.

State Reps. Jonathan Dever, R-Cincinnati, and Robert McColley, R-Napoleon, introduced House Bill 132, which 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.

"It seems like they're making the right steps," said long-time fantasy sports fan Lucas Preston, of Huber Heights. The proposals would provide some protections for participants, he said.

"At a high level, what we're trying to drive at is that consumer protection piece," said Dever. He noted that 1- to 2-million Ohioans participate each week.

Last year, Ohio Attorney GeneralMikeDeWineissued an opinion that state law is unclear when it comes to fantasy sports.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, 57.4 million people ages 12 and up play both daily and season-long fantasy sports. "Owners" assemble fantasy teams from the rosters of actual college or professional sports teams and follow how their team does over an entire season or a shorter window, such as a week or individual game.

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.

Participants may also use smart phone apps or run a fantasy sports league from a laptop but online companies offer convenience and ease, Preston said.

Last year, the Ohio General Assembly considered two different approaches to regulating fantasy sports betting but neither one made it into law.

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association maintains that fantasy sports leagues are games of skill because they require taking into account statistics, facts and game theory. Two-thirds of players are male, the average age is 38, two-thirds have college degrees and just over half have a yearly household income of $75,000 or more, according to the association.

The average annual spending per fantasy player is $556.

LegalSportsReport.Com says several states have already adopted laws regulating fantasy sports betting: Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Tennessee and Virginia. Fourteen other states introduced legislation last year but failed to pass it and 18 states this year have active legislation, according the website.

Dever said House Bill 132 is crafted to fit Ohio and is the product of input from large and small operators, players, and state officials from the Ohio Casino Control Commission, Ohio Department of Commerce and Attorney General's office.

"Everyone is coming together and saying we should have some structure and oversight and guidance on this to make sure nothing bad happens," Dever said.

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May 1, 2017


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