COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the Ohio Casino Control Commission gathered for their first meeting after the launch of legalized sports betting in the state on New Year’s Day, Executive Director Matt Schuler found himself addressing an issue not on the agenda.
“It was brought to my attention since we’ve been sitting here,” said Schuler. That Dayton Men’s Basketball Coach Anthony Grant used his postgame news conference following the team’s Tuesday night win over Davidson “to address hate messages being sent to his players, received in recent days from gamblers upset about their losses,” said Schuler.
“It sickens me,” said Coach Grant. “I’m just asking all of the Flyers fans just to understand we’re dealing with 18, 21, 22-year-olds and this is about them,” he said. “They have families. They don’t deserve that, mental health is real.”
Schuler also gave a friendly reminder to fans.
“These are kids that are out playing a game,” Schuler told commission members reminding them that they may not have the authority to control free speech but they can control who can bet in the state.
“Hoping that I’m not going to transgress our authority here but the commission does have the authority by the general assembly to put people on an exclusion list from all gambling in the state of Ohio and I think that it’s incumbent upon the commission to look into that very power,” he stressed. “That if social media is able to help us determine who these individuals are that are speaking out hate to kids than the commission has a responsibility to ensure that… those people cannot engage in legal sports gaming in the state of Ohio.”
“We obviously don’t have control over people’s behavior but we do have control over what venues they can choose to participate,” Schuler said.
Coach Grant didn’t get into specifics but his comments came a few days after the Flyers suffered a 1-point loss to Virginia Commonwealth University, a game they were favored to win by 7.5 points.
A quick search of the team’s Twitter page found several comments after the game about money that was lost or implying the game was rigged.
News 5 reached out to several local universities as well as the Mid-American Conference to see if this is a trend. Coach Grant says if they haven’t, they likely at some point will.
“It could really change the landscape of what college sports is all about,” the coach said.