Ohio introduces first-of-its-kind provision to ban sports bettors who harass athletes

Ohio is introducing a first-of-its-kind sports betting provision that allows regulators to ban gamblers who harass athletes. The change was introduced as part of the 2023-24 budget and targets bettors who “threaten violence or harm” against individuals over sporting events. It has yet to be revealed how this new policy will be monitored and enforced.

Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler had already called for this ability earlier in the year, amid incidents where bettors threatened members of the University of Dayton’s men’s basketball team. Through this power, regulators will be able to permanently ban or place sports bettors on an exclusion list if they are found to be harassing or threatening athletes. The policy is the first of its kind among all states with legal sports betting markets.

Allows CAC to exclude a person from participating in sports gaming in Ohio if the person has threatened violence or harm against a person who is involved in a sporting event, where the threat was related to sports gaming and made before, during, or after a sporting event,” the provision reads. “Stipulates that this provision enhances and in no way decreases a CAC’s existing broad powers and authority in this area.”

While the existing law already features penalties for this type of harmful behavior, the new policy provides the Casino Control Commission additional tools to address the issue. If the commission identifies an individual making a threat to an athlete on social media, they could potentially receive a permanent ban from all legal sports betting options in the state. The names of such individuals would be shared with sportsbook operators in the state, who would be expected to deny acceptance of any wagers from them.

At the time of the January basketball incidents, which involved the Dayton Flyers team, Head Coach Anthony Grant called out individuals who threatened members of his roster after the team lost to Virginia Commonwealth. Grant stated that sports betting had the power to change the college sports landscape, and lamented that some bettors “attack kids because of their own agenda.”

The provision against threats isn’t the only change to Ohio’s sports betting market introduced in the omnibus budget bill Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law last week. HB33 also included an unprecedented sports betting tax hike, doubling the rate from 10% to 20%. That change took effect July 1 and is expected to generate an additional $100-$135 million in tax revenue a year.