- Laura Bischoff Columbus bureau
Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday signed into law a bill legalizing fantasy sports gambling and giving the Ohio Casino Control Commission the authority to regulate it.
House Bill 132 reached the governor’s desk after passing the Senate 25-4.
The new law exempts fantasy sports contests played by thousands of Ohioans from Ohio’s gambling laws but places them for the first time under the Casino Control Commission, which will now adopt rules. The bill bans fantasy contests based on youth or college sports and bars operators from advertising to minors. It also prohibits players under 18 from participating.
More than 57 million people in the U.S. and Canada participate in both daily and season-long fantasy sports.
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.
HB 132 was supported by the Cleveland Indians, Columbus Crew and Cincinnati Reds as well as the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
Peter Schoenke, chairman of the association, said in testimony on the bill that the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS are investors in Fanduel or DraftKings. Clarifying Ohio law to state that fantasy sports are a game of skill and legal will help eliminate uncertainty, he said.
Schoenke estimates that just under 1.9 million Ohioans participate in fantasy sports contests each year.
“States have shown that fantasy sports is an activity that can be regulated to ensure a fair and balanced playing field. Sixteen states have passed laws clarifying that fantasy sports are legal games of skill,” he said in testimony.