Fantasy Sports Betting: Wagering on the Future - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Fantasy Sports Betting: Wagering on the Future

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Millions of people play daily fantasy sports online every day and some win a lot of money but there's growing controversy over whether it's a form of illegal gambling. Two states have already banned it so that made us wonder if Ohio plans a crackdown.  What we found is it could soon come under tighter regulation. 

Here's how daily fantasy sports work.  Players go online and choose their dream team using a salary cap.  The score and payout depends on how well the athlete performs in actual games.  If you know a factor like the weather or an injury to pick a long shot, you can win more money.  

A player we talked to recently didn't want to be identified but said the lure of winning upwards of a million dollars is the big attraction.

"I think I have a fair shot at winning. I have won, I know people that have won substantial amounts and I just believe you have to put the time in and you have to get a little bit lucky," he said.

It is that question of luck versus the skill of picking the team that has caused the contest to come under the scrutiny of Ohio lawmakers like Senator Bill Coley (R) District 4.

"I think we have to do something," Coley commented.

He compares the contest to horse racing, where the house takes a cut.

"If it's gambling it's illegal in Ohio and it should be stopped unless the legislature wants to authorize it.  If it's a skill game then what are the rules to the game, how are the rules enforced, are the rules fair?" he said.

Ohio's attorney general has not taken a stance on the legality of daily fantasy sports. His office said that it's up to the legislators to decide.

We could see a bill proposed in the next month or two. First, lawmakers must determine if the betting is legal or illegal. If it's legal, Coley wants regulations.

"I don't think that's the case now, I don't think everyone has an equal shot until the industry imposes things like handicapping and disclosures and separate classifications of players and things like that to protect the newbies," Coley said.

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association believes there's no doubt it's a game of skill, evaluating players and matchups. 

"Gambling games such as roulette and craps don't take any work you know? They don't take any homework," said Peter Schoenke, Fantasy Sports Trade Association Chairman and Rotowire.com President.

Still Coley is moving forward with legislation.

"Just understand you're a minnow, there's a lot of sharks out there waiting to eat you up," he stated.

Nevada and New York have already banned the games but New York's case is tied up in the courts.

Ohio lawmakers will be discussing the legality; taxes; rules; a regulatory agency and a possible public purpose, for example how the lottery benefits schools. If they decide to ban it, they will consider enforcement. 

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