The Ohio Casino Control Commission released its wagering menu last month, and it includes the usual suspects — NFL, pro baseball, and the Olympics — and a few not-so-usual suspects, including esports.
Under the state’s new law, Ohio will be one of the the few legal wagering states that embraces esports. The OCCC approved 10 different esports governing bodies for wagering, and the only sport with more approved governing bodies is soccer, for which the OCCC named 13 governing bodies around the world, including all of the major European leagues, Major League Soccer, and the National Women’s Soccer League.
Overall, the commission approved 84 sports governing bodies overseeing 20 sports around the world. Ohio will become the first state in 2023 to go live with sports betting when it launches retail and mobile sportsbooks just after midnight on Jan. 1.
The menu doesn’t include a list of every legal wager that will be available. Instead, it sets a list of parameters, with some exceptions, that bets must meet. Operators can request addition of bets that don’t automatically fit the profile, and the OCCC regulations call for a three business-day reply from the executive director.
For a bet to be legal, it must be:
- based on statistical results which can be proven by a box score, aggregation of box scores, or other statistical analysis.
- based on the performance of a single or group of rostered or otherwise registered athletes.
- based on the result of an outcome on the field of play (including the virtual field of play for esports).
Betting on some awards legal
The OCCC has so far approved 22 digital licensees and 21 retail licensees ahead of launch, from national operators like Caesars and FanDuel to European outfits — including Betfred and bet365 — trying to build their foothold in the U.S.
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The books will be able to offer any approved or “specifically approved” wagers and will be able to request approval for wagers not on the menu. Among the “specifically approved” wagers the OCCC has on its list are the Cy Young in baseball, the Most Improved Player in the WNBA, the Calder Trophy in the NHL, and the Super Bowl MVP.
It also breaks down what is legal to wager on during the NFL Draft, which includes being able to bet on the number of position players selected in a round and overall in the draft, as well as the number of “specified” NCAA conference players selected in a round and overall in the draft.
Noticeably absent is permission for any wagering on college football or basketball awards, including the Heisman Trophy. The OCCC does indicate that the executive director could give special approval for any of the above wagers should an operator request it.
Wagering on the Academy Awards is also banned.
No betting on color of Gatorade
While the OCCC does not list specifically prohibited bets, it does provide guidelines for “wagers which are not approved.” To this end, the OCCC prohibits wagering on coin flips, what color the end-of-game Gatorade is, events at “primary or secondary” schools, and events in which more than half of the participants are under 18.
The commission also prohibits wagering on:
- Statistical actions of coaches, officials, or referees — i.e., number of timeouts called, number of yellow cards issued, etc.
- Inherently objectionable outcomes. For example, whether any player will suffer an injury, how much time an injured or resting player will miss, whether any player be ejected from a game, or similar.
- Any actions by persons participating in entertainment surrounding the sporting event, but not the sporting event itself. For example, halftime performances, cheerleading activity, band performances, etc.
- Events which are pre-recorded or in which the outcome has been otherwise previously determined.
Verification deadline approaching
Friday is the deadline for operators to be ready for the OCCC’s verification process. According to the commission, all equipment — including retail gaming systems, remote verification systems, kiosks, and teller stations — should be installed, have already gone through independent testing, and be ready for review.
According to the OCCC flow chart, this deadline is the last ahead of launch, and the commission is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 14.