Greenspan Stresses Support for Mobile Sports Gambling during IP Meeting

It has always been his intention to allow mobile and online betting under any legal sports gambling program in Ohio, Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) said Wednesday.

Speaking with members of Internet gambling trade group iDEA Growth during an interested party (IP) meeting on HB194 (Greenspan-Kelly) in the Riffe Center, Greenspan said mobile betting is critical for persuading sports gamblers to play in the legal market instead of continuing to use unregulated offshore websites.

Greenspan invited Hannah News to attend and cover the interested party meeting following a story on the group’s scheduled meetings with Ohio officials. (See The Hannah Report, 5/7/19.) iDEA Growth founder Jeff Ifrah did not attend, but several other industry leaders including iDEA Growth’s John Pappas, Worldpay Legal and Compliance Vice President Mark Hemmerle and DraftKings Government Affairs Director Sarah Koch showed up to meet Greenspan and HB194 co-sponsor Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati). Pappas said Ifrah was called to testify in court today, but said he would be available to speak with lawmakers at a future time.

Greenspan recalled meeting with former House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Gallipolis) and current House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) regarding his work on sports gambling, saying he told them, “Unless mobile is part of the bill, I’m not interested in carrying it because it’s got to be a component.”

“We did not, purposely, call it ‘mobile’ or ‘online’ -- yes the Wire Act did drive some of that thought -- but we always used the word ‘devices’ in the bill … and we have since expanded ‘devices’ to include ‘personal devices’ and ‘software’ under the definition of ‘sports gaming equipment,’” Greenspan said. “The way the bill is formatted, it gives the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) … the greatest flexibility to adapt to this changing industry without going back to the Legislature.”

Greenspan said OLC shouldn’t have to seek a law change from the General Assembly every time a new game or a new method of sports gambling is introduced. He said a personal device could be a smartphone, a tablet or a video game system.

“If there is another device outside of mobile or online -- I’m not going to try to guess what that may be -- it may be excluded from use as defined in the Senate bill. So that’s why we went more broadly, and I understand there is some confusion, but I’m telling you, from an ideological perspective, I always had in mind offering mobile gaming,” Greenspan said.

It was also important to include the state’s four casinos, seven racinos and the 1,275 veteran and fraternal organizations with a class D liquor license in HB194, Greenspan said. He said each veteran and fraternal organization would be allowed to have one piece of sports gambling equipment. Greenspan said the OLC would have the authority to decide what kind of equipment exactly is permissible in those venues. Greenspan said outside companies would be allowed to partner with the veteran and fraternal organizations to offer a certain brand of sportsbook.

Greenspan also discussed his plan for OLC to be a central monitoring system for sports gambling, saying sports leagues would have access to data on their own league. However, for example, the NFL would not be allowed to gain access to data related to the NBA.

Greenspan took issue with some of the comments made by Ifrah regarding the Wire Act, saying the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) revised interpretation of the Wire Act does refer to the law’s applicability to sports gambling. Members of the trade group said Ifrah was most likely referring to the DOJ’s most recent filling in the litigation involving that reinterpretation, not the original revised interpretation of the Wire Act.

DraftKings’ Koch said the industry has always understood that the Wire Act applies to sports betting.

“So it hasn’t changed anything for what we’re doing as far as compliance for sports betting,” Koch said.


Story originally published in The Hannah Report on May 8, 2019.  Copyright 2019 Hannah News Service, Inc.