Ohio Regulators Ban NCAA Player Prop Bets

Written By Cole Rush on February 23, 2024 - Last Updated on February 26, 2024
A picture of Ohio State running back in the 2023 Cotton Bowl for a story about how Ohio banned NCAA player props

The Ohio Casino Control Commission has officially banned player prop bets on NCAA games in the state.

The decision comes from OCCC Executive Director Matthew Schuler in response to the NCAA’s request to remove such bets from Ohio sportsbooks.

“I have carefully considered information submitted by the NCAA and Ohio’s licensed sports gaming operators to conclude that good cause supports granting the NCAA’s request. Therefore, the prohibition is adopted and included in the Ohio Casino Control Commission’s approved catalogue of sporting events and wager types. I am appreciative of the information that both the NCAA and Ohio’s licensed sports gaming operators provided during this process.”

NCAA says prop bets can impact player safety

Both online and retail sports betting launched Jan. 1, 2023, in the state. During its first year, Ohio sports betting became the sixth-largest industry for sports betting in the US.

On Jan. 31, 2024, the NCAA asked the OCCC to prohibit player-specific proposition bets on college events. The core concern of the NCAA was player safety.

Player prop bets are wagers on outcomes tied to a specific player, not a full game.

For example, bettors may wager on whether a certain player will log over or under a set number of passing yards. Around the time of the request, NCAA President Charlie Baker told media outlets that such bets pose a great risk to student-athletes, who may receive threats, harassment or other negative attention based on their performance in relation to a prop bet.

The NCAA’s letter contained six specific concerns about player prop bets on college sports.

  • Harassment related to such bets
  • Student-athlete mental health and general well-being
  • Risk of insider information or market manipulation
  • Risk of athletes participating in betting on (or against) themselves
  • Spot-fixing (outside individuals attempting to impact one player’s performance)
  • Risk of problem gambling among college students

OCCC sought feedback on a ban from sportsbook operators

After receiving the request from the NCAA, the OCCC reached out to the state’s sports betting operators for feedback. Regulators asked for data that could help inform a decision. For example, the OCCC could get a clearer picture of the ban’s effect with these two data points.

  • Percentage of wagers prohibited under the ban
  • Total dollar value of such wagers during 2023

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many operators dissented. Eight written comments came to the OCCC objecting to a player prop ban. Some sportsbooks cited their in-house policies for reporting harassment and the risk of offshore betting on prop markets if a ban was enacted.

Ohio is already seen in the US as a leader in sports integrity when it comes to betting. The OCCC can legally ban any sportsbook user found to be threatening student-athletes.

OCCC plans to launch a public awareness campaign on protecting student-athletes

In his letter to the NCAA, Schuler outlined the reasons for enacting the ban.

“I have determined that good cause supports the NCAA’s request to prohibit player-specific prop bets on intercollegiate athletics competitions because the NCAA’s request will safeguard the integrity of sports gaming and will be in the best interests of the public. … The occurrences of and increase in the harassment of student-athletes based upon their performance or statistics in an intercollegiate athletics competition presents a clear and present danger to the best interests of Ohio.

Beyond prohibiting college player props, the OCCC has taken steps to address the NCAA’s concerns individually. The state first plans to launch an app that will allow college athletes to report harassment (including anonymously) and offer support via telehealth counseling.

Schuler also told the NCAA that the OCCC plans to run an educational public awareness campaign to help Ohioans better understand the issue of abuse of college athletes.

Photo by AP Photo / Julio Cortez
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