While sports betting in the Buckeye State is set to launch in a just a couple months, it won’t exactly mark the beginning of betting on sports in Ohio. Ohioans have been playing daily fantasy sports games for years.
Ohio legalized DFS contests five years ago, and the market has gradually grown over the years. Ohio’s sports betting industry will officially go live on Jan. 1, 2023. Until then, residents can take part in the many DFS contests available in the state.
Let’s take a look at the current state of daily fantasy sports in Ohio, along with every option for finding DFS contests until — and after — sports betting goes live.
How does DFS work in Ohio?
Sites that provide DFS offer a variety of different contests. But for the most part, the games have several elements in common. Once a sport or specific contest has been chosen, players select athletes from different teams to create a roster, which is submitted as an entry.
Typically, the site assigns a certain cost to each athlete, and the DFS player has to construct a team using a “salary cap.” It’s important to note is that the money assigned to athletes isn’t real money. The values are made up according to the athletes’ projections and likely performance.
The purpose of the salary cap is to prevent DFS players from selecting all the top athletes. Doing so would exceed the salary cap and would not be accepted as an entry into the contest. Accordingly, most teams are constructed of a mix of both stars and supporting players.
Contest entry fees can range from as little as 25 cents to $10,000, depending on the stakes. Keen attention must be paid to rules, structures and payout policies, as they can vary significantly.
Major brands operating DFS in Ohio
Oversight of fantasy sports falls within the purview of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. They have full jurisdiction over every operator in the state involved in offering fantasy contests.
Additional duties of the commission include licensing and regulating operators as well as investigating and penalizing them should they run afoul of the rules.
The following fantasy contest operators/management companies are licensed to offer DFS in Ohio:
- DraftKings – DFS giant with industry-leading technology boasting one of the safest sports betting platforms. Quick and easy to withdraw winnings.
- FanDuel – The other big name in DFS, FanDuel offers a huge range of contests and an excellent, trusted platform.
- Underdog Sports – Known for Best Ball contests, where users draft teams that compete over an entire season but with no in-season roster management. Also offers Daily Drafts and Pick’em.
- Yahoo Fantasy Sports – Well-known season-long fantasy platform and media company. Voted the #1 rated fantasy sports app to play fantasy football, baseball, basketball, hockey, DFS, tourney pick ’em and more.
- Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) – A season-long site where one can draft a team at the beginning of the season and follow the action each week. Leagues start in NFL Week 1 and run through Week 16.
- Bid Ventures – Powered by Jock MKT, a new live trading game for daily fantasy sports.
- DataForce – A worldwide data collection and labeling platform helping companies in technology, automotive, life sciences, and other industries deliver more personalized experiences to their customers.
- Fantasy Golf’s OF – A first-class fantasy golf gaming experience with live cash games.
- Masters Fantasy Leagues – Home of 12-team head-to-head fantasy football redraft and dynasty money leagues. The app is a free play-to-play fantasy game that allows users to casually compete against friends, family, or the public.
- No House Advantage – Daily fantasy sports platform that offers players prop contests across NFL fantasy football, NBA fantasy basketball, MLB fantasy baseball, PGA fantasy golf, MMA fantasy combat sports, NASCAR fantasy racing, and E-Sports.
- OwnersBox 3.0 – An innovative sports-tech company that aims to energize fans by unlocking the power of sports and unifying sports fans through community and competition.
- RealTime Fantasy Sports – Offers single-day or multi-day fantasy leagues with two styles of play (draft or salary cap), a variety of entry fees, and varying league sizes.
- SportsHub Games Network – Real-money fantasy sports games and contests. The company’s platform means to drive deep customer engagement with highly interactive games and mobile applications.
- SuperDraft – A free-to-play sportsbook based on SuperCoins that players can acquire by logging in every day and spinning the rewards wheel.
- TwoNine Sports – Operates primarily in the computer software development and applications industry.
Leading the pack in DFS popularity are DraftKings and FanDuel, which follows the trend of other states. Another celebrated operator, FantasyDraft, had its license to operate in Ohio switched from active to inactive once ownership of the company was transferred.
PrizePicks, the largest independently owned DFS platform in North America, is not operational in Ohio at this time. Also, the Underdog Sportsbook, which plans to launch in Ohio at the start of 2023, is busy creating platforms similar to those of FanDuel and DraftKings.
Here are some of the most popular DFS contests:
Guaranteed prize pools
Guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) set a guaranteed amount of money to be paid out no matter the number of entrants. These contests pay out a certain number of winners, with the top spots taking the most home. They are structured a lot like online poker tournaments, which is why they’re often described as tournaments.
Cash prizes are awarded to the top 10 to 20% of winners, beginning with “min-cashes” (usually less than twice the buy-in amount) and then moving up to the largest prizes, which go to the top spots.
These contests have payouts that do not graduate like GPPs. Instead, a certain percentage of top finishers each win the same amount.
Some favorites in this category include 50/50 contests (top 50% cash), Double-Ups (rewards double their entry fee) and Head-to-Head (“winner-take-all” contests between two DFS players).
Another difference from GPPs is that cash games do not always happen. If, for instance, only 90 players enlist for a 100-person cash game, then the contest is canceled.
In Showdown contests, DFS players select athletes only from teams involved in a single game, as opposed to the entire schedule of games that appear that day. Also, players are required to pick at least one athlete from each team, so their lineups represent both teams.
Unlike GPPs, tier-based contests do not come with a salary cap. Instead, DFS players will find a set of tiers that contain a small selection of athletes from that day’s game. Athletes are then selected from each tier to build a team.
There are several other DFS games, including:
- Multi-entry and single-entry
- Satellite and qualifier
- Steps contests
- In-game contests
NFL fantasy DFS very popular in Ohio
With their incredible run to the Super Bowl last season, the Bengals not only shocked the world but also opened the eyes of people competing in NFL DFS contests. The two top Bengals players, Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, were among the top NFL DFS picks during the postseason.
Scoring in DFS fantasy is really no different from the way most standard fantasy leagues score their matchups. Players earn points not only for touchdowns but for yards and receptions as well.
History of DFS in Ohio
In 2017, Ohio joined the ranks of several other states that have passed legislation legalizing daily fantasy sports. Interestingly, DFS had already been accepting players from Ohio while legislators in Columbus were still trying to hash out the legal merits of the game in 2016.
Then-Attorney General Mike Dewine sent a memo to the General Assembly expressing his concern about the industry’s legality. Here’s an excerpt from that writing:
“It is unclear whether DFS websites, as currently operating, violate R.C. Chapter 2915. Due to this lack of clarity, and the variety of laws DFS implicates, the General Assembly may want to address this issue.”
It didn’t take long before two opposing bills were introduced to the Senate, one bill legalizing DFS and the other prohibiting DFS as unlawful “schemes of chance.”
Neither of the two bills made it far in 2016. In 2017, a new bill in favor of DFS emerged. H132 was backed by State Reps. Jonathan Dever and Rob McColley.
The House passed the bill with a vote of 82-15. A short while later, the Senate approved a version of the bill by a 25-4 vote. Back at the House, the Senate’s bill was agreed to, and soon thereafter, the measure was sent to then-Gov. John Kasich for his signature.
When Kasich officially endorsed the bill on Dec. 17, 2017, Ohio became the 18th state to legalize DFS. After that, it took the Ohio Casino Control Commission nearly two years to tailor regulations based on the laws of the state. In September 2019, the new DFS rules became operational.