Dayton Coach Says Players Receive More Hate Since Sports Betting Launch

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
USA Legal Betting


  • Dayton players were flooded with threats after a loss to VCU last week
  • A sports psychologist at Ohio State said negative online messages can have long-lasting effects
  • The Ohio Casino Control Commission is considering a ban for hateful social media users

Three weeks into the existence of Ohio sports betting, a college basketball coach has spoken out on the negative effect it's having on his players.

Anthony Grant, head coach at the University of Dayton, spoke at a Tuesday press conference on threats and other negative comments that the Flyers have received online since the market launched on New Year’s day, telling critics “we don’t need you.”

Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff already expressed his reservations regarding legal sports betting in Ohio. As problems continue to mount, the onus falls on the state to regain control of the market.

Comments from the coach

Dayton is one of 36 states (and Washington D.C.) that offer legal sports betting services online and in state casinos. The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) spent the last year-plus setting up the sports betting infrastructure before the New Year’s Day launch.

With the opening of the market came the opportunity for locals to bet on college sports using mobile betting apps or retail sportsbooks. Dayton, along with Ohio State University, is one of the most prominent attractions in the area. 

But just as is the case with everything in life, some people are taking their power too far. Dayton players have been subject to harsh online abuse when they don’t perform well or lose, which led to Grant speaking out in defense of his players. 

“There’s some laws that have recently been enacted that, to me, it could really change the landscape of what college sports is all about, and when we have people that make it about themselves and attack kids because of their own agenda, it sickens me,” said Grant after a 68-61 win over Davidson Tuesday.

According to Grant, several of his players received personal threats after their 63-62 loss at home to VCU last week. Dayton Daily News contributor David Jablonski also reported that Flyers athletic director Neil Sullivan revealed an uptick in hateful online messages since the legalization of sports betting. 

Dayton’s head coach did not use the words gambling or sports betting in his monologue, but the implication was there. 

“They have families,” Grant added. “They don’t deserve that. Mental health is real.”

Solutions to the problem

The OCCC condemned the threats made towards Dayton’s basketball players and now has to figure out how it will regulate the situation.

Other states with sports betting services have taken different approaches to protect college athletes. Several states have laws prohibiting prop bets, or wagers on player performances, in college events, while others do not allow users to bet on any in-state colleges. Ohio does not have any of these safeguards in place.

There are growing concerns that the person-to-person contact afforded by social media can have a drastic increase on players’ mental health. Dr. Jamey Houle, a sports psychologist at Ohio State, said that the relationship can have long-lasting negative effects.

“Because it's even more legal in the state of Ohio to bet that maybe people feel more upset with the players, that they didn't play well or there is a loss or something like that,” said Houle. “Now with social media, people can have direct contact to the student-athletes and that feels, you know, problematic.”

Houle said that he advises the Buckeyes and other student-athletes to practice mindfulness. He believes that others will always have their opinions, and that is outside of the players' control and should be outside of their focus.

Sports betting reporter Bennett Conlin said the OCCC is considering banning Ohio bettors that share hateful messages to players online. 

It is unclear what methods the OCCC would use to track down social media hate-posters. There is also the issue that many of the accounts will inevitably belong to out-of-state bettors, who the OCCC has no authority over.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.