Officials trying to keep college betting out of Ohio’s sport gambling bill in Columbus

Leaving just Ohio universities off the betting boards could be considered.
Updated: Oct. 21, 2019 at 12:13 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Ohio House Bill 194 (HB 194) has been in consideration for years, trying to determine if Ohio should be the next state to legalize betting on sports.

Bruce Johnson is president of the Inner-University Council of Ohio (IUC) representing all 14 of Ohio’s public universities, and testified last week before the Finance Committee, trying to keep betting on college sports out of HB 194.

“In a nutshell, we oppose gambling on college athletics because it will bring with it the potential to corrupt our students, cost a lot of money to maintain control, and lead to additional cases of problem gambling among our students,” Johnson said.

The IUC isn’t alone. Since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ban in 2018 the NCAA has been against the ability to bet on college sports.

“If wagering on collegiate athletics is permitted, it would not take a great leap of logic to conclude the risk of student athletes soliciting and accepting payments in order to influence the outcome of games may increase,” Johnson said in his testimony last week.

There are currently 11 states that have gone ahead an legalized sports betting and they are Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Arkansas and Iowa.

In 2019, six more states passed bills to legalize betting and are in the stages of implementing betting.

While Johnson’s testimony raised concerns for betting on all college sports, he said it has been discussed to just keeping in-state schools off the books, the way New Jersey and Illinois have done.

Johnson is also worried about the cost to universities.

Each school would more than likely have to create a compliance office, making sure student athletes understand the rules about betting on sports they play, or their schools teams the way pro teams currently do.

“Compliance money is available to large professional organizations via their leagues,” Johnson said. “Kent State and Cleveland State, Youngstown State and Akron don’t have extra compliance money lying around. Under the bill you can bet on OSU (Ohio State University) football or Youngstown State women’s volleyball.”

HB 194 has not reached the House floor for a vote yet, as it’s still sitting in the Finance Committee.

The bill is running out of time for a vote in the 2019 session. If not passed in 2019, the bill would have to start over, and go pass through committees again in 2020.

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