Online Gambling Group Aims to Ease Wire Act Concerns in Meetings with Ohio Officials
should expressly allow online and mobile options as part of any bill legalizing
sports gambling in Ohio, according to a leading Internet gambling trade group
based in Washington D.C.
with Hannah News ahead of planned
meetings with members of the General Assembly, the governor’s office and the
Ohio Casino Control Commission this week, iDEA Growth founder Jeff Ifrah said a
mobile provision is an important part of any effective legislation allowing
legal sports gambling. Allowing Ohioans to legally place bets on their
smartphones is the only way to stop sports gamblers from using unregulated
offshore websites, he said.
SB111 (Eklund-O’Brien) spells out that mobile and online sports betting is
allowed, HB194 (Greenspan-Kelly) uses the word “device” as a catch-all term
that Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) said could apply to mobile and online
sports gambling once legal issues regarding the federal Wire Act are resolved.
(See The Hannah Report, 3/18/19,
an attorney involved in litigation against the U.S. Department of Justice’s
(DOJ) revised interpretation of the Wire Act, said he understands why Greenspan
and other lawmakers are concerned.
more confusion than anything else, and I totally appreciate why there would be
confusion around it. But actually the DOJ didn’t say anything new, and didn’t
say anything at all regarding sports betting in its opinion,” he said. “It
actually is an opinion that is largely just focused on poker and casino, oddly
enough. They didn’t say anything that changed the law or the policy regarding
online sports betting.”
the technology is sufficiently advanced to avoid any potential problems with
violating the Wire Act.
that the question is largely resolved by speaking to people who run the data
servers and server farms,” he said. “They are the ones who are able to run the
programs, along with GeoComply, on an intrastate basis in a way that doesn’t
implicate the Wire Act.”
noted that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling allowing for legal sports gambling
in states outside Nevada occurred nearly a year ago. (See The Hannah Report, 5/15/18.)
Jersey has been up and running for almost a full year without any federal
incident at all -- not any threats or anything,” he said.
you could have language in a state bill that said that any online program will
obviously run on an intrastate basis and in compliance with the federal Wire
Act. It generally just comes down to the transmissions of the bets or the
wagers. You have to make sure that there are no transmissions of bets or wagers
outside of state. As for data transmission that might go outside of the state,
the federal statute itself provides an exception for that,” Ifrah said.
addition to the issue of mobile gambling, Ifrah said his group will also
advocate for allowing “multiple skins.”
casino launches a sportsbook, of course they want to be able to launch it in
its own name,” Ifrah said. “But a lot of times in a particular market, there
aren’t enough casinos to really generate enough revenue off of launching a new
sports program. What you often need are more participants investing in
marketing dollars to raise awareness of the sports betting opportunity. The way
you can get more people invested in the market is by allowing casinos to open
up additional skins, or have additional partners.”
this policy, Ifrah said, a casino could have its own branded domain, but also
sell other domains for partners to use off of its license.
that ends up doing is -- instead of Caesars taking, let’s say, 15 cents from
every dollar that comes in and putting it back into marketing, now you have two
people taking 15 cents and making it 30 cents and putting it back into
marketing. That’s what helps drive traffic to the regulated sites as opposed to
allowing people to go on Google and search ‘sports betting’ and be driven to
some site offshore,” he said.
way to kind of subsidize the cost of the marketing spend, which is the most
significant cost that online operators have to deal with. We studied the
economics of this in New Jersey, and what we saw is the more people that
participate in the market, then the more revenue that’s brought in by that
market. Which is kind of logical, even if it’s a little counterintuitive,” he
continued. “Most people hear, ‘Multiple people? So you’re taking this pie that
used to be four casinos and splitting it into eight or 16.’ The response is,
‘No, the pie that was four casinos is now growing to a larger pie. It may be
split into eight, but the pie’s not the same.”
and Iowa also use the multiple skins policy, Ifrah said.
said he would like Ohio to eventually allow online poker and online casino
not on the table right now, and that’s fine, but that is something we hope for.
I think a lot of casinos make a lot of money when they can cross-sell
opportunities, and it only takes a couple seconds to place a bet online or in a
casino, so you want to be able to sell them other things while you have their
attention. That’s something we hope Ohio would consider down the road,” Ifrah
to iDEA Growth, meetings to discuss sports betting have been scheduled for
Wednesday, May 8 with the following state officials:
Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) and Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), sponsors of HB194
John Eklund (R-Chardon) and Sean O’Brien (D-Cortland), sponsors of SB111
Government Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Bill Coley (R-West Chester)
President Pro Tempore Bob Peterson (R-Sabina)
and House leadership staff
Members of Gov. Mike DeWine’s office
Members of the Ohio Casino Control Commission
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on May 7, 2019. Copyright 2019 Hannah News Service, Inc.