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Ohio State Buckeyes fans spell out Ohio during the second quarter of the game against the Youngstown State Penguins at Ohio Stadium as we look at the Ohio college player props ban.
Ohio State Buckeyes fans spell out Ohio during the second quarter of the game against the Youngstown State Penguins at Ohio Stadium. Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images/AFP.

It's about to get more difficult to place player prop bets in the state of Ohio at the best sports betting apps, and for good reason.

Ohio Casino Control Commission executive director Matthew Schuler announced on Friday that his state will be banning player-specific prop wagers on college athletics for Ohio sports betting apps after an NCAA request.

"First and foremost, the occurrences of and increase in the harassment of student-athletes based upon their performance or statistics in an intercollegiate athletics competition presents a clear and present danger to the best interests of Ohio," Schuler said. "Based upon the information the NCAA provided, it is apparent to me that player-specific prop bets may be directly related to player-specific harassment, including threats — meaning a decrease in the availability of these types of wagers could lead to a decrease in harassment.”

The decision to ban prop bets on college sports not only comes after a request from NCAA president Charlie Baker, but also Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. The latter has been pushing for reforms to the Ohio sports betting platform since its launch in 2023.

The ban on player-specific prop bets for NCAA athletes will go into effect immediately, with March 1 the last day for Ohio sports betting sites to comply.

Defining the prop bet

Prop betting has become huge business for the best sportsbooks. Sportsbooks in Ohio, which provide Ohio sportsbook promos, were asked to submit data surrounding the bet type. Prop bets on college athletes made up about 1.35% of the state’s overall handle in 2023, or roughly $104.6 billion.

Now any wager based on the following is not permitted, according to Schuler:

  • Any proposition or "prop" bet on an individual athlete's performance or statistics when participating in a sporting event that the NCAA governs. Only proposition bets based on full team statistical results are permitted.
  • Any full-team proposition bet on a sporting event the NCAA governs that, while not based solely on an individual, would on average depend 50% or more on the statistical performance of one or two athletes on the team to determine the outcome. For example, whether Team A will gain over 200 passing yards in a football game would predominantly rely on the quarterback's yardage, likely over 50% dependence.

The issues at hand

The explosion of prop-betting opportunities in the ever-expanding U.S. legal sports betting industry through betting sites has created a perhaps predictable set of issues for not only the sports wagering industry, but the leagues and players it relies on.

The NCAA outlined a few main issues with prop betting through a letter from Baker:

  • The NCAA has experienced a significant increase in reports of bettors harassing student-athletes, including some from Ohio.
  • Player prop bets increase the risk of insider information being solicited and/or leveraged to manipulate betting markets. Student-athletes, unlike professional athletes, are accessible to other students and members of the public at large.
  • Player prop bets may entice student-athletes to engage in sports betting by betting on themselves to outperform a player prop bet related to their own game performance.
  • Player prop bets increase the risk of “spot fixing,” or would-be match fixers targeting student-athletes and other sporting participants to fix a portion of a contest without needing to fix the whole contest.

Some objections

Ohio sports betting apps voiced some objections tied to the decision. One was the loss of revenue for sportsbooks in the state. But that argument was all-but rebutted by the fact that just 1.35% of the state’s handle came from such wagers. 

Then there was the concern about bettors moving toward illegal providers to make college prop bets. That argument was also largely made moot when Schuler identified the low percentage of the overall sports betting activity in the state tied to college prop bets.

So, Ohio joins 24 other legal sports betting jurisdictions that have banned or placed limitations on college prop betting opportunities.

“The NCAA has shown good cause to support its request to prohibit player-specific prop bets on NCAA collegiate events in Ohio," Schuler noted. "While I recognize that there may be a small negative impact to operator and tax revenue, the protection of student-athletes and the integrity of collegiate competitions far outweigh these impacts.”