Ohio Senator Niraj Antani

  • The Ohio Legislature received its first taste of a sports betting bill with Senate Bill 176.
  • Senate Bill 176 would regulate mobile and retail sportsbooks in Ohio as well as a lottery pool for sports wagering.
  • There will be a cap of 40 licenses for sportsbooks under the current proposal, however, lottery retailers and mobile sportsbooks could be limitless.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio heard Senate Bill 176 to regulate sports betting in the state during its first official hearing within the Senate Select Committee on Gaming (SSCG) on Wednesday. The hearing was an introduction to the bill as well as a call for a few amendments to the draft right out of the gate.

The biggest thing to understand about Senate Bill 176 is that it was written up with the intention to be discussed and amended as lawmakers see fit. Wednesday’s hearing should be one of at least a handful of times in the future where changes will be requested to the proposal.

The SSCG had to pour over tons of information regarding the industry as it was received over nine weeks of meetings for testimony on sports gaming. This resulted in a 250-page bill that will require multiple changes within it. Primary sponsors, Senator Niraj Antani, and Senator Nathan Manning acknowledged this fact, even during the hearing on Wednesday.

What Happened During The First Hearing

Amendments were made to Senate Bill 176 during its first official discussion. The changes made include License B applications become eligible to already existing racinos and casinos as the first draft did not allow for this. The first come first serve language within the initial draft of the bill when it came to applications and licensing was omitted. Added into the proposal was the allowance of the OCCC to use a regional feature for sports betting to help with the economic growth of the industry. And the amendment for Type A applicants made it so that the business’ applying must have some type of presence in Ohio to qualify.

This proposal will allow for three different ways that sports bettors in Ohio can wager on sports with the biggest way being mobile sportsbooks. The Buckeye State believes that mobile sports wagering is essential to have within the industry. Anyone that wants to open a mobile platform must first apply for a Type A license and then subcontract out to a mobile operator to launch their digitized sportsbook which can be accessed statewide. There is a cap of 20 Type A licenses available.

The second route is for retail sports betting in Ohio. This will be known as Type B licensed operations, which is capped at 20 brick and mortar facilities. Current casinos and racinos will be eligible to apply for a Type B sports gaming license. The third option for gambling on sporting events is through a lottery pool run by the Ohio Lottery.

Regulated sports betting in Ohio has named the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) as the regulatory body under this bill. Every type of sporting event and wager is open for sportsbooks to offer Ohioans as is written within the current draft of the measure so long as it is approved by the OCCC.

All applicants for one of the combined 40 licenses will be thoroughly vetted to ensure they can provide the proper sportsbooks that the Ohio market seeks to give the people of the state. There is a $1 million application fee along with that same fee for renewal every three years. Tethering is not required at this point because the sponsors would like to have more of an open market for sports betting. However, Type B licensees can subcontract to an unlimited number of mobile apps at this time.

There is a 10% tax on all GGR, regardless of the platform; 90% of the revenue will go toward K-12 education programs and 2% will go to gambling addiction initiatives. The remaining 8% will be kept by the state to use as they see fit.

What Else Falls Under This Bill?

Senate Bill 176 will regulate sports gaming and electronic or eBingo in Ohio as well as iLottery. It enables the Ohio Lottery to offer sports betting in a sports pool, lottery-style format. The lottery sports betting pool will have a winning and losing side with a fixed rate buy-in of $20. Winnings will be split between all the winners for that specific sports wager. The lottery retailer aspect is meant to keep more money in Ohio by helping Ohio businesses profit with terminals at multiple locations for wagering on sports.

“Ohio’s lottery retailers must be included in sports gaming,” said Senator Niraj Antani at the hearing.

Antani is more knowledgeable on the lottery aspect of the bill which is why he spoke on it. There is no set date for when the next hearing will occur but by all accounts, Wednesday’s hearing for regulated Ohio sports betting went favorably.

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