Ohio Legislature

  • Ohio sports betting legislation has been met with some opposition this week.
  • Advocates of the sports wagering market would like to see Senate Bill 176 that would regulate mobile and retail sportsbooks in Ohio pass by June.
  • With a June passage, the sports gaming industry of Ohio could launch by the start of the NFL season this year.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Just when the Ohio Legislature thought they created the perfect balance for a sports betting bill, the pushback has begun.

Ohio created the Select Committee on Gaming who heard nine weeks of testimony from everyone with an opinion on regulated sports wagering statewide. They then took those opinions and put together a bill for the future sports wagering industry of the state. That bill was heard first within the committee on May 12.

Senate Bill 176 would make mobile and retail sports betting in Ohio a regulated market. It also includes eBingo and an iLottery. Wagering on sporting events from professional to collegiate games would be open, as well as betting lines for international tournaments.

It was the hope of advocates of the industry to have this bill passed by June in order for it to be able to have a chance at going live for the 2021 NFL season. However, they’ve now run into some roadblocks this week through testimony by those that oppose the current draft and are requesting amendments be made to it.

Senate Bill 176 Changes Requested

Ohio regulated sports betting as it is written in its present form would open a $20 ticket lottery pool for sports betting that would be sold at retailers of the Ohio Lottery. However, these retailers like that of bowling alleys and grocery stores, want to offer full-on sports wagers rather than a win/lose $20 pool ticket as they’re saying that the market for that will decline rapidly once people begin seeing they’ll win less money than they spent on the ticket when all is said and done.

Another change is being asked of the professional league teams venues and the eleven casinos and racinos of the state. These organizations want to expand into regulated sportsbooks by having licenses earmarked for them. This way, they would not need to apply and compete for licensure, they’d have licenses set aside for them as a sure thing once their applications were submitted.

The last problem as far as pushback has to do with collegiate sports betting. This issue is simply a matter of how the bill is written in regards to the subject. There are concerns that because there are no exemptions written about club sports at colleges that sportsbooks could technically put betting lines on these competitions.

This is something that could be easily be changed to clarify that only NCAA sports would be eligible for wagers.

What’s Coming In Ohio

These matters will clearly need to be addressed by the legislature. However, mobile sportsbook operators like DraftKings are standing behind Senate Bill 176 as it’s presently written.

They believe it is a competitive and fair piece of legislation that would create a great sports wagering industry for the Buckeye State. These issues, outside of the lottery retailer problem can be easily changed. The lottery aspect may need to have further discussions.

With any luck, lawmakers will still be able to push out a regulated sports betting market in Ohio by the 2021 NFL season, even with the current pushback it’s seeing.

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