Ohioans looking to wager on sports Thursday have no shortage of options.
In addition to scanning the schedules of mainstream American leagues like the NBA and NHL, they can go so far as betting on Juventas as a favorite over Nantes in Europa League soccer or on New Zealand to upset England in international cricket.
But one thing no one can do legally in the state — whether in person or with a mobile sportsbook — is bet on Thursday night’s XFL football game between the Seattle Sea Dragons and St. Louis Battlehawks. Nor, for that matter, can they wager on any other XFL game this year.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission, which regulates which events, sports, and leagues the sportsbooks can offer wagers on, has ruled the XFL off-limits. Betting on the league, in which all eight teams opened their 10-game regular seasons over the weekend, is possible in many jurisdictions, but not in the Buckeye State.
“A request to add the XFL was submitted to the Commission and was temporarily denied after a review by staff and the Executive Director,” OCCC spokeswoman Jessica Franks told OH Bets this week by email. In explaining the term “temporarily,” she noted that requests can be resubmitted at a later date.
USFL will be OK, though
The XFL is in its third iteration after brief appearances to fill football’s offseason calendar in 2001 and 2020. Team rosters are made up of players not quite good enough for the NFL, but who could get a look later in the year from NFL teams if they excel in the XFL.
In many respects, the league is thus similar to the USFL, which starts its own season April 15. That league includes games to be played at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium as home site this year for both the Pittsburgh Maulers and New Jersey Generals. (It may seem a curious location for those teams, but no more than Birmingham, Alabama was last year.)
The USFL, in fact, has been approved for wagering by the OCCC after the league’s resurrection last year.
While the commission did not provide OH Bets with a specific reason for rejecting the XFL, Franks pointed to its guidelines for reviewing requests by operators to allow bets.
The commission’s review of wager/event requests includes (but is not limited to) the following criteria:
- The quality of the governing body’s documented integrity program.
- The general availability of information related to the governing body.
- The professional or skill level status of athletes.
- The history of integrity related to events sanction by the governing body.
As to the volume of betting a league like the XFL would likely attract, it would be a pittance compared to NFL games. There’s also no Ohio team in the league to draw local betting interest similar to what the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns attract.
ABC and ESPN are carrying most of the XFL’s games, however, and there is no doubt some subset of football diehards watching who may be wishing they could also place a bet.
One way they could do that — just like they would have for old-fashioned NFL betting prior to Jan. 1 — is to drive across state lines and use a mobile app like DraftKings, which in Pennsylvania lists the Sea Dragons as a 3-point favorite over the Battlehawks Thursday night.
The guess here, however, is not many Ohioans will go to such lengths for the x’ed-out XFL.
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