Sports betting is coming to Ohio, and the excitement in the state is palpable. As businesses and operators rush to form partnerships and obtain licenses, bettors in the Buckeye State are eager to place their first (legal) future or parlay.
While the anticipation is real, there may also be a sense of FOMO. With Week 1 of the NFL season just weeks away, Ohio bettors are somewhat left on the outside looking in as one of just four states in the nation that doesn’t have legal sports betting or PrizePicks, one of the more popular DFS contests available.
Of course, Ohioans aren’t completely without options. DFS certainly is legal in the state, and over a dozen operators offer the contests. However, Ohio joins Hawaii, Idaho and Missouri as the only states where folks can’t bet on sports or play PrizePicks.
Still, PrizePicks has never entered the Ohio market. Let’s take a look at why that is — and why it could change after Ohio launches sports betting on Jan. 1, 2023.
What is PrizePicks?
DFS typically involves drafting a lineup of players within an allotted salary cap to compete against thousands of other players for the chance to win a big overall prize. PrizePicks, however, attempts to make it easier.
Instead of specific player prop bets like other apps, PrizePicks focuses on fantasy points. Users analyze whether or not a certain player will go over or under the set amount of points.
According to its website, PrizePicks offers this unique DFS style for over 25 sports. Legal ages to participate in PrizePicks’ offerings may vary depending on the state.
PrizePicks was recognized as the fastest-growing sports company this month by the 2022 Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America List, landing at No. 66 on the list of fastest-growing private companies.
Why isn’t PrizePicks legal in Ohio?
As mentioned above, DFS is legal in Ohio. After legislation was passed in 2017 allowing it, companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings flocked to the Buckeye State to offer their DFS contests.
However, PrizePicks has never operated within Ohio. According to Rule 3772-74-11 created by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, DFS operators are prohibited from offering “proposition selection or fantasy contests that have the effect of mimicking proposition selection.”
For reference, the OCCC defines “proposition selection” as “fantasy contest players choosing whether an identified instance or statistical achievement will occur, will be achieved, or will be surpassed.”
“As the Daily Fantasy Sports industry has evolved in recent years to include more than just the original salary-cap format, PrizePicks, working in conjunction with its peers, has made a concerted effort to match its exploding player popularity with national recognition and acceptance from elected officials, regulators and key decision makers both in the state of Ohio and across the nation,” PrizePicks told PlayOhio in a statement.
“As it currently stands, there is a specific ban on player-oriented propositions that does not allow operators to offer this category of DFS in the state of Ohio. As a result, PrizePicks has never operated in the state of Ohio at any point during the company’s operations. The company continues to have a line of communication open with the state’s key stakeholders and is appreciative of the constructive conversations and shared dialogue to date.”
Where can PrizePicks operate?
According to the PrizePicks website, the company currently operates its real money DFS contests “across 30 states, Washington D.C., and all Canadian provinces except Ontario.” Along with Ohio, the following states do not boast the ability to play DFS via PrizePicks:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
For Idaho, Hawaii, Nevada, Montana and Washington, all DFS formats are currently illegal.
For Maryland and West Virginia, similar to Ohio, the problem isn’t that DFS is illegal in these states (it’s not). Rather, it’s because these states contain laws abiding against certain single-player fantasy game formats.
PrizePicks even had a back-and-forth battle with the Maryland gaming commission in April after having operated successfully for four months. Despite obtaining a license in September 2021, Maryland eventually deemed that PrizePicks was wading into the “sports wagering” waters.
Maryland’s argument: DFS should be players against players, not players against operators. Such is also the case in Ohio. The lone difference between Maryland and Ohio is that PrizePicks has never even ventured into the Buckeye State.
Will PrizePicks join Ohio in 2023?
All of this could be moot in Ohio once the state officially ushers in universal sports betting the moment the calendar year flips to 2023. If it were up to PrizePicks, offering a more diverse range of DFS contests in Ohio would already have happened.
“Ultimately, we believe that Ohioans should have as many choices to enjoy and consume sports entertainment as they desire. We remain hopeful that our joint efforts in Ohio will lead to more regulated DFS options in the state. For now, we will respectfully remain on the sidelines.”
It would be hard to imagine PrizePicks sitting idly by while its competition enters a brand-new market. But, for now, Ohio remains one of only four states that won’t have PrizePicks or official sports betting when the 2022 NFL season kicks off in a couple of weeks.