Ohio Senate Passes Daily Fantasy Sports Bill

Posted on: November 30, 2017, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: November 30, 2017, 01:44h.

The Ohio Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow daily fantasy sports contests to be regulated in the state.

Ohio daily fantasy sports
Ohio Governor John Kasich may soon have the chance to sign a bill that would regulate daily fantasy sports in his state. (Image: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The legislation, originally known as House Bill 132, passed by a 25-4 margin and will now need to be reconciled with the version of the bill that passed the state House earlier this year.

Under the bill, the Ohio Casino Control Commission would be charged with the regulation of contests such as though that are offered by FanDuel and DraftKings.

Operators would be required to acquire a license in order to offer such games in the state, and would be prohibited from allowing real money play related to college or high school sports or advertising to minors.

Teams, Industry Trade Group Support Bill

The bill enjoyed broad support throughout the sports community. Not only did the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) get behind it, but so did several local professional teams, including the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, and Columbus Crew.

During testimony on the bill, FSTA Chairman Peter Schoenke said that he wanted Ohio to follow in the footsteps of other states that have expressly legalized daily fantasy sports games.

“States have shown that fantasy sports is an activity that can be regulated to ensure a fair and balanced playing field,” Schoenke said. “Sixteen states have passed laws clarifying that fantasy sports are legal games of skill.”

Opponents Question Lack of Revenue for State

While the bill passed easily, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t aspects of the law that provoked some controversy. Some lawmakers, such as Senator Bill Coley (R-West Chester), opposed the bill in its current form.

Coley proposed adding a six percent tax to the bill in order to cover the cost of social problems that might come with the games, despite the fact that the bill makes a point of stating that fantasy sports contests are not gambling. He also questioned what benefit residents of the state would get out of the legislation in its current form.

“You get no jobs, no development,” Coley said. “You’re getting the money sent out of state electronically, and you get nothing for Ohio.”

Operators would pay a 0.26 percent commercial activity tax in the state, but would otherwise owe no state taxes. That pales in comparison to the 33 percent tax paid by casinos. The bill does also allow for licensing fees of up to $10,000 a year.

The bill will need to quickly return to the House if there is a chance of passing a final bill this year. The lower chamber of the state legislature only has two days left in its 2017 session before it plans to recess for the year.

State-by-state regulation of the daily fantasy sports industry has been gaining momentum throughout the year, with several states signing legislation that clearly designates the industry as a legal option for players. Other states that have done so in 2017 include Maine, Delaware, New Jersey, and Mississippi.