Ohio sports betting regulators revealed this week the names of five fantasy sports websites under investigation for offering illegal gambling.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission contacted the following websites for offering player vs. house contests resembling unlicensed OH sports betting, per commission spokeswoman Jessica Franks:
- Lucra Sports
- Prediction Strike
- Dynasty Owner
Those types of contests are prohibited in fantasy sports offerings under Ohio law.
Last week, OCCC executive director Matt Schuler saidthe commission is investigating an “army” of websites attempting to blur the lines between daily fantasy sports and sports wagering by offering touched-up versions of player prop bets. Ohio launched sports betting in January and is among several states monitoring fantasy sports regulation.
Welcome back to skill vs. chance
Most of the websites under investigation say they offer games of skill rather than games of chance, a distinction at the center of a long-standing legal debate between the two activities and federal carve out for fantasy under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA.)
Earlier this year, New Jersey regulators issued Prediction Strike a cease and desist letter for offering unlicensed sports wagers. The self-proclaimed “world’s first fantasy sports stock market” is no longer available in the Garden State, according to its app.
Lucra Sports lists Ohio among 18 “sports excluded” states, though not among its eight “recreational excluded states.” TeamStake’s website says it is “legal in all states,” even states that have expressly banned daily fantasy sports, because it does not offer commercial contests.
Websites for Fliff and Dynasty Owner do not give specifics on legal markets.
Ohio sports betting regulators crack down
In November, the OCCC suspended StatHero‘s fantasy sports license for three years for similar player vs. house contest violations.
None of the websites under the new investigation are licensed as fantasy operators. That could potentially preclude them from the administrative hearing process afforded to StatHero.
“Depending on the entities, if they are not licensed, we have a number of tools at our disposal to take care of illegal activity,” Franks said, declining to elaborate on specifics.
Franks added that Ohio regulators monitor potential fantasy sports violations through regular checks and complaints.
Spread makes fantasy regulation a reality
The player stat-driven contests sparking the commission’s ire are essential business for apps including Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks, which offer sports betting-adjacent products in dozens of states without regulated legal wagering.
PrizePicks is not in Ohio and Underdog does not offer its “pick’em” player prop contests in Ohio, where it has a sports betting license pending.
Both are part of a coalition hoping to work with Vermont as it revisits its definition of fantasy sports, an action triggered by the state’s recent passage of legalized sports betting.