Saturday’s game between the University of Buffalo and host Ohio University was canceled on Friday due to COVID-19 issues in the Ohio program.
The cancellation allowed Buffalo to clinch the Mid-American Conference East Division title and a spot in the conference title game.
The Bulls reportedly learned they were division champions about 2 1/2 hours into the approximately 390-mile bus ride from Buffalo to Athens, Ohio. The Bulls reportedly stopped at a rest stop in Mentor, Ohio — located just east of Cleveland — and turned the bus around on Interstate 90 to head back to Buffalo after learning of the cancelation.
The MAC released a statement that said, “The University at Buffalo at Ohio University football game on Saturday, December 5 has been canceled due to roster issues with the Ohio football team related to positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent contact tracing. The game has been declared a no-contest.”
Buffalo (4-0, 4-0 MAC) would have preferred to clinch the spot in the Dec. 18 title game at Detroit on the field.
“While we are disappointed our game at Ohio has been canceled, the health and safety of our student-athletes continues to be our top priority,” Bulls coach Lance Leipold said in a statement. “I’m extremely proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. They have done everything the right way during these difficult times. In fact, we didn’t have a single positive case this week. We were looking forward to playing Ohio, but we will now shift our attention to our next opponent, Akron.”
The Bulls are scheduled to host Akron on Dec. 12. The Bobcats (2-1, 2-1) visit Kent State on the same day.
Buffalo is led by star running back Jaret Patterson, who rushed for 409 and eight touchdowns in last week’s 70-41 win over Kent State. The yardage was second-most all-time behind Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, who had 427 against Kansas in 2014.
It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad).
Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top stories, and rounding up key stories in sports betting, gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading.
12 Billion Reasons There Is So Much Hype Around Pennsylvania Sports Betting; Launch Pad Readies at Hollywood Penn
The Hollywood Casino in Pennsylvania will make history on Saturday when it fully opens the first legal sportsbook in PA to the public. More than a year after legalizing sports betting, Pennsylvanians will finally be able to legally place a bet — and the state will begin to reap expected financial gains from sports betting. They already have, actually, in the form of $10 million application fee apiece from the six properties so far to apply for a sports wagering license.
Of the eight states that have legalized sports betting, Pennsylvania is the only that that has just about two of everything — NFL teams, MLB teams and NHL teams. The only pro sport with only one Pennsylvania franchise is the NBA.
Besides the 36 gubernatorial races decided on Tuesday, the Nov. 6 elections will have an impact on the future of sports betting in some states. Several key lawmakers in states actively considering legalizing sports betting lost their seats or were term-limited out, while others retained their posts and may see their influence elevate.
In Indiana, two key legislators, Ben Smaltz, whose Public Policy Committee held an intensive hearing on sports betting last month, hasn’t filed legislation, but could be a key drive. So could Ron Alting, Smaltz’s Senate counterpart. Both held off Democratic challengers to retain their seats.
In Kentucky, Adam Koenig, who retained his seat with 55 percent of the vote, hasn’t filed a bill yet, but hosted a comprehensive hearinghttps://sportshandle.com/ky-lawmakers-closing-in-on-sports-betting-bill-to-pass-in-19-hone-in-on-final-key-issues/ in October and appears to have taken the point on sports betting in the Bluegrass State. And in Massachusetts, chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Joe Wagner, who ran unopposed, is carrying the torch.
Ohio lawmakers on Tuesday hosted two meetings as the first step to crafting passable sports betting legislation. The meetings, hosted by senators John Eklund and Sean O’Brien (D-District 32), left Eklund feeling like lawmakers are on the right path.
“We’re taking the information we gathered at these meetings and the sponsors will get together and see if we can put some meat on the bones,” he said. “We’ll draft a bill and then entertain comments and suggestions, and I’d hope we might have a substantive bill ready to go. If not, we might need some more meetings.”
Eklund is aiming to have an outline done in a couple of weeks and, with any luck, a bill drafted shortly after that. Both the Ohio Senate and House have up to six sessions on the calendar in November and up to seven each in December. The goal would be to pass legislation before the end of 2018, otherwise, a new bill would need to be introduced at the start of the 2019 session.
In the first half of the year, midwestern states in general weren’t able to legalize sports betting, but some began to lay the groundwork for passable legislation to be crafted. For Illinois, Michigan and Ohio lawmakers, the summer months were all about learning, negotiating and educating with the goal of finding common ground.
While none of the three states has introduced any new legislation of late, all have the chance to legalize sports betting before 2019, or at the start of the 2019 session.
Ohio state senator John Eklund (R-District 18) had an “aha! moment” with regards to sports betting earlier this year.
“At one point, I may have had a preconceived notion” about what sports betting in Ohio would look like, Eklund said. “Like who is going to regulate and what will the tax rate be, but there is much more to this than that.
“The reason we have a placeholder bill is the more I realized the multifaceted nature of this. There are so many permutations on the theme, it starts to boggle a little. We do a lot of legislation that has that kind of feel and flavor to it. … But there are too many people with big brains out there for me to say that I have the answer.”
Lawmakers Aim to Bring Together Interested Parties and Hash Out What Ohio Sports Betting Will Look Like.
And so it was that Eklund, along with Democratic counterpart Sean O’Brien (District 32), introduced a one-line placeholder bill, SB 316, in July, with the intention of starting the sports betting conversation in the Buckeye State. Eklund is hoping that conversation will begin in earnest later this month, after meetings to identify key players.
“Broadly speaking, what I am pursuing is an effort to convene a series of interested party meetings to, well, rather than go after this in a scattershot action, get them to focus on what’s important to them,” he said. “It wouldn’t be the kind of deal where we’d have to rent out Jacobs Stadium or anything, it would be smaller, where we could start taking people’s pulses, getting people’s ideas.”
The ultimate goal would be to narrow the focus enough to then schedule hearings in the General Assembly to flesh out what sports betting should look like and “craft something with more meat on the bones that we can vote on when we get back after the November elections.”
In the meantime, Ohio has to contend with the idea that it is surrounded by states that have either already made sports betting legal or are actively trying to. Both neighbors Pennsylvania and West Virginia legalized sports betting in the last 12 months, with the Mountaineer State set to see the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races take the state’s first legal wager before Sept. 1.
Kentucky currently has a sports betting working group exploring what sports wagering in the Bluegrass State might look like, while Michigan and Indiana both had sports betting bills in their respective legislatures earlier this year. It’s likely that Michigan lawmakers will move forward with legislation in the fall when they return from their summer recess.
Ohio Is Surrounded By States, Including Pennsylvania and West Virginia, That Have Legalized Sports Betting or Are on the Cusp of Doing So.
Eklund would like for Ohio to do the same thing.
“The idea is, let’s get some of the wrangling and some of that research and some of that opinionating that gets done first and then we’ll have the legislative hearings,” he said. “Does that mean we’ll have a bill that comes out of the Ohio State Senate by the end of the year? I don’t know, but I am hopeful that by the end of the year or the beginning of next year, that we can move forward.”
So, logistically, what will sports betting in Ohio look like? That’s an open question. The state currently has four commercial casinos and seven racinos. It does not have Indian gaming or Tribal-State compacts to negotiate, which ought to make the process of legalizing sports wagering a bit simpler. The state lottery – a potential governing body for sports betting – also already allows Keno in bars and retail locations. So, among the myriad details, lawmakers will have to determine the “where” when it comes to sports betting.
They’ll also have to figure a tax rate and other fees. Ohio lawmakers have gotten a little education by watching the action next door in Pennsylvania. The state legislature there set the tax rate of 34 percent plus a 2 percent local tax and even as the gaming control board has rolled out temporary rules, not a single operator has yet filed an application for sports betting. The law also calls for a $10 million application fee.
Buckeye State Lawmakers Have Learned From Pennsylvania That High Tax Rates Don’t Fly, But Haven’t Set a Sports Betting Tax Rate as Yet.
“I can tell you that everything I’ve seen shows me that the Pennsylvania rate is extraordinarily high and probably counterproductive,” Eklund said. “On the low end, it would go toward prognosticating about what the level of participation would be” at different tax rates.
Another key piece to any sports betting legislation is sorting out mobile and online betting. Eklund is not opposed to either, saying “we all have to recognize at a very fundamental level that the mobile economy and the number of people who live and die with a 3 x 6, half-inch thick device welding to their hand is absolutely incredible.” But he didn’t have an idea of how mobile betting might play out.
All in all, Buckeye State lawmakers appear to be preparing to go to school. And when it comes to sports betting, there is plenty to learn.