Coin flips, cornhole and Call of Duty. Can you guess which of these makes for a legal bet in Ohio?
The answer can be found in the Event and Wager Catalogue, which defines bets allowed and prohibited when Ohio launches its sports betting industry on Jan. 1.
The catalogue, published by the Ohio Casino Control Commission in mid-December, excludes bets on “coin flips or other random determinations.” It requires bets to be “based on the result of an outcome on the field of play (including the virtual field of play for eSports).” And it allows bets only on “events sanctioned by a sports governing body approved by the commission.”
Major League Baseball and the NFL, NBA, NCAA and NHL all made the list. So did the Call of Duty League. The American Cornhole League did not.
“We’re comfortable with what they’ve approved,” said Jeff Lowich, vice president of retail operations at FanDuel, the nation’s largest sportsbook.
“The catalogue is pretty comprehensive,” said Geoff Zochodne, who follows the sports betting industry for the only publication, Covers.com. “I think the comment made by the director of the Casino Control Commission is that they think that they have basically 95% of all the leagues covered that people will probably want to bet on anyway.”
The WCPO 9 I-Team compared Ohio’s betting catalogue to those in other states. Our review found Ohio might be leaving some money on the table by not authorizing certain bets, while raising integrity questions with bets it allows.
Colorado, for example, generated $63.5 million on table tennis bets in 2020. Ohio doesn’t allow it.
“The popularity of the sport really grew in some circles during the pandemic when there weren’t a lot of sports being played and so people went looking for alternative sports to bet,” Zochodne said.
Ping pong bets declined after the height of the pandemic, but they still account for more than 1% of all wagers, according to monthly reports from the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Colorado has one of the nation’s biggest betting catalogues, allowing scores of bets Ohio does not. Among them: Eating contests, badminton, sailing, snooker, slap fighting and jai alai. But it sides with Ohio on the issue of coin toss bets.
FanDuel will offer a Super Bowl coin toss bet in states that allow it this year, along with another popular bet that’s banned by Ohio: What color of Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach? Ohio bans bets on things “determined prior to the performance of the athletes in the event,” including what clothing is worn and what sports drinks are used.
“Those are fun bets that people just like to throw a couple of bucks on,” Lowich said. “I don’t think it has a major impact on Ohio revenue.”
Lowich said Ohio’s wager catalogue is big enough to allow more than 90% of the bets FanDuel makes in other states. And in some ways, it allows more flexibility.
“There’s other states that don’t allow customers to wager on college teams in that particular state,” Lowich said. “There’s other states that don’t allow college teams playing in that particular state, even if they’re not from that state, to be wagered upon … but Ohio has allowed that and we’re looking to be able to offer those types of wagers.”
Ohio has joined a list of 15 states that allow proposition bets on college athletes. Colorado is one of 14 states that bans such bets.
Proposition bets are wagers that don’t depend on the outcome of a game, but on the performance of individual athletes. Examples include whether a running back will gain 100 yards in a game or how many batters a pitcher strikes out.
Ohio State University asked regulators to ban proposition bets involving college athletes in January and limit bets on college sports to football and basketball only. Ohio’s catalogue allows NCAA Division I bets on football, basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball.
“Outside gaming influences from those seeking to gain an edge in their wagering have used college students who are roommates, friends of, or the competitors themselves to create an advantage for themselves or even throw games,” Ohio State Vice President of Government Affairs Stacy Rastaukas wrote to the Ohio Casino Control Commission. “This must be prevented for the safety of the students and the integrity of the competition.”
Zochodne said proposition bets tend to involve high-profile athletes whose actions are highly scrutinized, whether or not a bet is placed on them.
“An Ohio State game, a ton of people are going to be watching that,” Zochodne said. “If you have a prop bet, the concerns of integrity are probably going to be not as high as it would be for a much smaller sport just because you’re having hundreds of thousands of people watching them play.”