The possibility to enforce a ban on any person who threatens or speaks against athletes from the Buckeye State came as a result of a complaint received from a basketball coach at the University of Dayton.
Coach Anthony Grant issued the complaint after his players received criticism after recording a narrow loss and blowing their 14-point halftime lead.
Criticism That Attracts All the Attention
Ohio Casino Control Commission’s executive director Matt Schuler explained that the commission is allowed to establish a lifetime ban on any person who might threaten or criticize athletes in the state.
While explaining it was not an “overly prevalent” occurrence, Schuler also argued that when such criticism may occur, it is prone to draw everyone’s attention. According to Gongwer News, Schuler further explained that this happens because the ones that are put playing the games are “kids”.
Coach Grant used the press conference at the end of the game to emotionally criticize the effects of the sports betting market being legalized in the state and officially launched on January 1, 2023.
The coach spoke about the recently enacted laws that, according to Grant, “could change the landscape of what college sports is all about”. He drew attention to the people who “make it about themselves and attack kids because of their own agenda”, raising awareness of the need to protect athletes’ mental health and families.
Spokesperson for the Casino Control Commission Jessica Franks argued that the criticism of student-athletes was not something new and that it happened prior to the legalization of sports gaming in the state. However, the explosion of social media’s popularity turned this criticism into something a lot more visible.
Just a few weeks before sports gambling was given the green light under the bill signed by governor Mike DeWine in December 2021, CJ Stroud, a quarterback for the State University, reported receiving death threats from fans who did not take his team’s loss against Michigan rivals too well.
The University of Dayton “Appreciates the Commission’s Attention”
The university appreciated the attention given by the commission to the matter of online hate in sports. Using the voice of the university’s vice president Neil Sullivan, they added that anything that can protect student-athletes’ best interests should be further looked into.
Republican state lawmaker, Rep. Brian Stewart of Pickaway County discussed the option of labeling a potential ban on gamblers who criticize players a violation of their free speech.
Stewart also advised the commission to “get an emergency refresher on the First Amendment” prior to speaking publicly about the government banning private citizens “for saying mean things to other private citizens”.
Soon after its launch, Ohio’s online sports betting market recorded a massive start with 11.3 million geolocation transactions recorded over the first two days alone, going over New York’s figures.