Cleveland Indians support legalizing fantasy sports contests in Ohio

Cleveland Indians support legalizing fantasy sports contests in Ohio

The following article can be found in its original form at this link from Karen Farkas, September 28, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio- The Cleveland Indians are among sports teams and companies that support a proposed law that would legalize fantasy sports contests in Ohio.

"The future of fantasy sports is important to the Cleveland Indians," wrote chairman and chief executive Paul Dolan in a letter submitted this week to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee. The team has had a marketing partnership with DraftKings, an online fantasy sports site, since 2015, he wrote.

The legislation, currently in the Senate Finance Committee, would give the Ohio Casino Control Commission the authority to regulate fantasy contests and to exempt fantasy contests from gambling laws.

The legislation would require players be older than 18. Operators would be required to obtain a three-year license costing up to $30,000 for larger companies.  The bill also would prohibit fantasy contests based on youth or college sports.

The Ohio House approved the proposal 82-15, in May. No one has spoken against the measure in three Senate hearings.

Ohioans currently can pay to play their favorite athletes on daily fantasy sports websites because of a lack of state regulation.

"Senate Bill 153 will ensure that the millions of Ohioans who enjoy fantasy sports can continue to participate in the popular and accepted form of entertainment with confidence that the state has adopted a regulatory structure to better protect consumers," Dolan wrote.

See the letter below or click here if on a mobile device. 

His letter was similar to those submitted to the committee by executives of the Columbus Crew and the Cincinnati Reds.

Several states have banned fantasy sports, saying they constitute illegal gambling. 

The two top fantasy sports companies, DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc., maintain their games are based on skill, not luck.

According to, 14 states regulate fantasy sports betting, five states have laws that led companies to pull out, nine states are contesting the issue and 18 states, including Ohio, have proposed legislation to allow it. No action is underway in the remaining states.

More than 53 million Americans, including two million in Ohio, participate in some form of fantasy sports, Peter Schoenke, chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, said in testimony submitted to the Senate committee.

Schoenke, founder and president of, a leading information website for fantasy sports, said the association's members include major media companies and daily fantasy contest operators.

"All the major sports leagues recognize fantasy sports as a legitimate and fun hobby - in all its forms whether season-long, free, paid or daily fantasy sports," he wrote. "In fact, the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS are investors in Fanduel or DraftKings. And major corporations support and advertise on fantasy sports properties."

The proposed legislation in Ohio adds important consumer protection measures including limiting the age of participants, safeguarding that prizes will be awarded at the end of the contests and ensuring contests are run fairly, Schoenke wrote.

In a 2016 poll conducted by Ipsos, 65 percent of Ohioans age 18 or older supported a law that would clarify that playing fantasy sports for cash prizes is legal.

Steve Brubaker, executive director of the Small Businesses of Fantasy Sports Trade Association said in written testimony to the committee that the bill assures fantasy sports fans that the contests are being conducted by reputable companies.

"These contests are conducted over the internet," he wrote. "Players are sending their hard earned money into cyberspace and trusting that the folks on the receiving end are reputable companies that will actually pay out the winnings. Licensing by the Commission, actually knowing who these companies are, provides a sense of comfort for players, that we believe will grow our player base over time."

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