Ohio casino official: College sports covered by betting bill

December 15, 2021 GMT
Matt Schuler, the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, discusses provisions of the state's new sports betting bill expected to become law soon, on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Schuler said there's no question that major college sports including Ohio State football will be eligible for wagers.The commission is charged with regulating the new law. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Matt Schuler, the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, discusses provisions of the state's new sports betting bill expected to become law soon, on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Schuler said there's no question that major college sports including Ohio State football will be eligible for wagers.The commission is charged with regulating the new law. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Matt Schuler, the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, discusses provisions of the state's new sports betting bill expected to become law soon, on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Schuler said there's no question that major college sports including Ohio State football will be eligible for wagers.The commission is charged with regulating the new law. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Matt Schuler, the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, discusses provisions of the state's new sports betting bill expected to become law soon, on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Schuler said there's no question that major college sports including Ohio State football will be eligible for wagers.The commission is charged with regulating the new law. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Matt Schuler, the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, discusses provisions of the state's new sports betting bill expected to become law soon, on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Schuler said there's no question that major college sports including Ohio State football will be eligible for wagers.The commission is charged with regulating the new law. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Sports betting in Ohio will cover major collegiate sports — including Ohio State football — the head of the state agency tapped to regulate the new industry said Wednesday, batting down any question about the law’s intent.

The General Assembly did not exempt collegiate athletics from sports wagering, and neither will the Ohio Casino Control Commission, said executive director Matt Schuler.

“That’s the big question: Will people be able to bet on the Ohio State Buckeyes?” Schuler said. “Yes, they will.”

Ohio’s sports betting bill was approved by the Legislature last week and is now with Gov. Mike DeWine, who has said he’ll sign it.

The Ohio measure is the result of negotiations that began after the U.S. Supreme Court said in 2018 that states can approve sports betting.

ADVERTISEMENT

The legislation creates three types of licenses to be overseen by the state’s Casino Control Commission, with a start date no later than Jan. 1, 2023. Those licenses govern mobile wagering such as on a phone app; gambling in bricks-and-mortar operations run by casinos and racinos and by professional sport teams and events; and bars and restaurants with self-service gaming kiosks.

Ohio proceeds would be subject to a 10% state tax with the money going to Ohio K-12 schools.

Betting-eligible sports include Ohio’s professional sports teams, motor sports, Olympic events, professional golf and tennis, and major college sports such as football and basketball, but the final determinations will be established by the Casino Control Commission.

Ohio universities have long raised concerns about the impact of sports betting on college sports.

“If wagering on collegiate sports is permitted, it would not take a great leap of logic to conclude the risk of student athletes soliciting and accepting payments to influence the outcome of games may increase,” Bruce Johnson, the head of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, testified before the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming in March.

Schuler said the highest volume of sports betting will inevitably be done on the biggest traditional sports, such as March Madness basketball and the Super Bowl, which are traditionally the largest money makers for sports books.

The commission’s default position will be to include big-time collegiate sports, unless objections are raised.

“If the commission is presented with a scenario where its intervention is needed for the purpose of integrity and managing risk, then the commission will absolutely consider that and take whatever measures are necessary to do so,” Schuler said.