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Ohio Sports Betting Bill Slowly Moving Towards Legalization

Ohio Sports Betting Bill Slowly Moving Towards Legalization

by Tanner KernMay 27, 2021

The Ohio sports betting legislative process is not a sprint. Sports wagering is slowly moving towards legalization in the state, causing it to resemble a marathon. No progress was made on Wednesday after another gaming hearing in the legislature.

Sports betting has been discussed in the state for 12 years. There is hope that the Senate Select Committee on Gaming can iron out the disputes to get the bill passed this year as the industry grows throughout the nation.

The main issues that are dividing the stakeholders and legislature deal with sports betting licensure. Ohio is closer to sports betting legalization than ever before, but the process is nowhere near complete.

The Current Ohio Sports Betting Bill

The Ohio sports betting bill is very competitive and modeled after major markets in the United States. The current document allows for up to 20 online sports betting providers in the state. The state’s 11 casinos and “racinos” would each be awarded one skin.

There was an alteration to the bill last week, giving casinos the power to open retail sportsbooks. Many gaming companies that operate sportsbooks have a stake in Ohio casinos. The companies include MGM (BetMGM), Penn National (Barstool), Churchhill Downs (TwinSpires), Caesars Entertainment, and Hard Rock Gaming.

All these companies would likely open sportsbooks in the landlocked casinos. These books will have to compete with DraftKings and FanDuel, who will likely contend for a license in Ohio, the seventh most-populated state in America.

The combination of people and professional sports teams makes this state an ideal sports betting market. The Ohio Casino Control Commission would be given the power to regulate licenses in the state.

All businesses with a substantial presence could apply for licensure. Casino stakeholders only want current gaming corporations to have the ability to apply. This is a major area of dispute in the current bill.

Twenty licenses seem like a lot, but it will quickly dwindle in the state between the 11 landlocked gaming properties and the professional sports organizations. If businesses throughout the state apply, there is a chance some gaming organizations are cut from sports betting.

The Next Steps for Ohio Sports Betting

The gridlock needs to be overcome in the Ohio legislature for sports betting to pass. A formal vote is approaching in the Senate committee that will advance the bill to the next legislative step. After the bill advances from the committee, it must be passed in the House and Senate.

Both chambers must pass an identical bill, so this process may not be finalized until the end of the summer. The goal is for the bill to be passed by June 30, according to the legislature. Although, industry experts are skeptical of this date.

Many things need to occur over the next month to hit this target. The number of licenses needs to be finalized. Additionally, the legislature must discuss tax and regulatory policies for the industry.

Even if sports betting is not legalized by June 30, the positive news is that the Ohio government is determined to get a sports wagering bill passed in 2021.

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About The Author
Tanner Kern
Tanner Kern is a former Division I football player at Lafayette College and a graduate of the University of Connecticut. He is a former writer for USA Wager and!