Sports gambling is legal in Ohio. What does this mean for your campus?


Sport betting

As of January 1, 2023, sports betting is legal in Ohio for both retail and online sportsbooks. Now, anyone over the age of 21 and inside Ohio may place a wager on sports. The process of legalizing sports gambling started on December 8, 2021, when the General Assembly passed House Bill 29. The bill, which took effect March 23, 2022, allows sports gaming through licensed operators of online sportsbooks and brick-and-mortar establishments. Unlike some states that prohibit betting on in-state colleges, Ohio will have no such restriction. However, under the new legislation, one cannot bet on high school sporting events.

Even though Ohio’s state laws are changing, the NCAA rules have not.[1] Under NCAA Bylaw 10.02.1, across all divisions, it is impermissible for a student-athlete, coach, athletic department staff and non-athletic department staff members with oversight to place, accept or solicit a wager on any sport sponsored by the NCAA at any level including college, professional, and/or amateur. A wager is any agreement in which an individual or entity agrees to give up an item of value (e.g., cash, shirt, dinner) in exchange for the possibility of gaining another item of value. The NCAA states that examples of sports wagering include, but are not limited to, the use of a bookmaker or parlay card; internet sports wagering; auctions in which bids are placed on teams, individuals or contests; and pools or fantasy leagues in which an entry fee is required and there is an opportunity to win a prize. This group also cannot share information that is commonly sought by gamblers, such as team disciplinary actions, team morale, injuries, etc. The penalty for violating this bylaw for student-athletes can be loss of eligibility, and, depending on the severity, coaches can be suspended or terminated.

What can your campus do now? If you are an NCAA member institution, it is important to educate your student-athletes and staff that gambling on most sports is impermissible, even though it is now legal in Ohio. Hosting regular compliance meetings, updating signage around athletic facilities and sending periodic reminders via email and social media can establish a compliant atmosphere on your campus and ensure that your campus is up to date with the most accurate information. Finally, one of the best ways to keep your campus knowledgeable is to build relationships and have ongoing conversations about the evolving legal landscape.

[1] The NAIA and NJCAA does not have specific rules or consequences regarding sports gambling, but some of those member institutions do prohibit sports wagering at their institutions. 

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