Bill allows Ohio casino regulators to oversee fantasy games


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio casino regulators would gain authority over fantasy football leagues, office March Madness pools and similar games under legislation aimed at ensuring the games aren’t operated for profit.

A bill proposed by state Sen. Bill Coley, a Cincinnati Republican, would put the state Casino Control Commission in charge of regulating the operators of pools and fantasy leagues, The Blade of Toledo reported (http://bit.ly/2dC5Nff).

Failing to pay out every penny of the entry fees in prizes would remain a crime under the bill. For-profit pools and internet gambling are already illegal in the state, but additional oversight makes sure that pools and raffles continue to operate legally, Coley said.

“If you are currently operating pools that pay off less than 100 percent of the entry fees as prizes to pool participants, then you need to change your business models,” he said. “You can still (offer such games as) loss leaders, but the second you touch any of the entry fees to recoup ‘handling fees,’ ‘shipping costs,’ or any type of administrative expense, know that you are violating existing Ohio law.”

He introduced the bill the day after a bowling alley in Garrettsville awarded more than $3 million in a Queen of Hearts raffle. The payout came after the jackpot built up over nearly a year of drawings that had failed to produce a winner. The raffle is legal and is used by the bowling alley to draw business.

“Whether you’re operating a Queen of Hearts game, fantasy sports, e-sports or any other pool in the state of Ohio, we’re going to see to it that you have clear rules to safely operate the pool not for profit,” Coley said.

The business interests behind the pools would still be allowed to use them as promotions to draw business. They could also make profits on advertising and sponsorships related to the games.

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Information from: The Blade, http://www.toledoblade.com/

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