Ohio lawmakers are beginning the process of officially legalizing sports gambling with the introduction of two bills at the Statehouse.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a the 1992 ban on commercial sports betting, opening the door for states to develop their own rules on whether to allow the practice and how to regulate it.
All of the major sports have teams represented in Ohio and structured gambling on all of them is likely to be coming in the future according to state lawmakers.
“There are no preconceived notions as to what that pathway may look like, nor is there a time line,” said State Representative David Greenspan, the sponsor of one of the bills currently introduced at the Statehouse.
According to the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio’s executive director Derek Longmeier, while sports gambling was still considered illegal statistics showed that 18 to 25 year old males were the group at highest risk of developing problems.
Those statistics line up with what some say could be a major issue moving forward.
There is a lot of concern over young adults being able to gamble especially if the state opens up collegiate sports to such betting.
“I think for 18 year olds you’re opening a can of worms because it’s the first time that they’re coming to college, it’s like having a credit card, you know it’s tough to have the checks and balances and as a parent I would be petrified to have to deal with that, as a coach it very much scares me,” said Dixie Jeffers, the Head Coach of Capital University’s Women’s Basketball team.
Sports gambling on collegiate sports could be a temptation for players who are not being paid to play while the schools reap the financial rewards of their output and getting involved doesn’t necessarily mean posting a bet.
Students giving inside information in exchange for a cut of the winnings could be a serious problem.
“The last thing you want to do is have that taint around your programs that maybe a game ended a little lower score or somebody didn’t play as well and then there is always that question of you know who’s involved, or who might be involved in trying to keep a score at a certain point or a result in a different way,” said Roger Ingles, Director of Athletics for Capital University.
Both Ingles and Jeffers are hopeful that lawmakers will give careful consideration to this issue.
The lawmakers putting it together say they’re committed to working with all interested parties to ensure that the best bill for Ohio comes out of this process.
“We’re not beholden to a time line to get it done by a certain date, nor are we going to be forced to do something that is not ready,” said Greenspan.
However, the vice president for American Policy Roundtable Rob Walgate says, sports betting is already legal in Ohio.
He says the casinos aren’t offering it because the shift in the interpretation of law by SCOTUS took everyone by surprise and they weren’t prepared.
Walgate and Longmeier both say that if Ohio begins officially offering sports betting on a wide scale the increase in the need for gambling addiction services will be inevitable.
They say it’s simple math, if you increase the number of people able to gamble you will increase the number of people who will become addicted to it.
One of Longmeier’s biggest concerns is for sports betting to be accessible on something as commonplace and easy to obtain as a smart phone.
We will continue to monitor where the legislation is at and what is being done with it to provide details on how the State plans to regulate sports betting.