Ohio State University Stadium

  • Ohio sports betting legislation failed to pass in the 2020 session as the Ohio Legislature adjourned on Tuesday.
  • A sports wagering industry in Ohio shows revenue projections in the million-dollar range annually.
  • It is expected that similar bill proposals to legalize sportsbooks in the Buckeye State will be seen in the 2021 session.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -Try as they might, Ohio sports betting legislation did not receive passage with the 2020 legislative session coming to a close on Tuesday.

Sports gaming was closer than it’s ever been in the Buckeye State to becoming legal but with COVID-19 turning the world upside down, there were over a hundred other bills that needed to be addressed before the Ohio Legislature adjourned for the year and Sub. Senate Bill 111 didn’t make the cut.

The proposal was a combined effort of both the House and Senate sponsors that have advocated to make gambling on sporting events legal and was assumed to be the best compromise as it was adjusted to ensure everyone’s voice was heard.

The Status Of Ohio’s Legal Sports Betting Effort This Session

Sponsor to Sub. Senate Bill 111 Senator John Eklund had a positive outlook for a sports gaming industry to become legal in Ohio for 2020. According to Eklund, there is no actual timeframe for something like this to get done in terms of approvals.

While some states may drag out the process, in actuality, once the House and Senate are both aware of the bill’s general makeup enough like they were with OH SB 111, a green light to the desk of the Governor (in this case, Governor Mike DeWine) could be done in a day.

Pending any call for a special hearing which is unlikely in the final days of the year, it appears that Sub. Senate Bill 111 did not get that one day it really needed on the House and Senate floors for approvals. The bill will officially die at the end of the year but can already be considered dead because the regular session is over.

As for Eklund, his term has also ended so he and his bill will no longer be a part of the Ohio Legislature come 2021.

What’s Next In 2021 For The Buckeye State?

Of the four main sponsors for sports wagering legislation in Ohio, only one will be back in 2021, Representative Brigid Kelly. It is expected that Kelly will continue on with her work to legalize sports betting in a way that is similar to what the end result of OH SB 111’s draft turned into.

She and her fellow sponsors worked endless hours to get a proper structure for a legal sportsbook landscape in Ohio that would include both retail and mobile sports wagering.

It is likely that should she be on any team to make sports gaming legal in the Buckeye State or sponsor another bill herself that it will very much be a mirror image of Sub. Senate Bill 111 that in the end didn’t receive enough attention because had it, Ohio could have made sportsbooks legal in the new year.

Although Ohio sports betting wasn’t legalized in 2020, the efforts of lawmakers have set the table for passage, as the Ohio Legislature has been fully introduced to the pros and cons of the industry already and that’s half the battle.

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