- Two sports betting bills in Ohio have been sitting in the legislature since the spring of 2019.
- OH SB 111 resides in the state Senate and aims to have the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge of regulating sports betting.
- OH HB 194 is in the state House and if legalized would appoint the Ohio Lottery as the regulatory authority over sports betting.
- Four out of five neighboring states have legalized sports betting and Kentucky is on pace to do the same.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two Ohio sports betting bills have been locked in a stalemate for months, and a clear path to get out of that stalemate is unclear. This legislative hold comes during the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, which is the peak sports wagering season.
One of the bills is OH SB 111, which would put the Ohio Casino Control Commission as the chief agency in charge of regulating the state’s sports betting industry.
The other bill is OH HB 194, which would task the state’s lottery commission with creating the rules and regulations for sports wagering in Ohio.
Sen. John Eklund commented last month on the status of the legislature in regards to this issue.
“The heavy lifting in terms of educating members, gathering info, caucusing, I think in my opinion, we’re coming to the end of that line,” said Eklund.
However, comments from the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Larry Householder, seem to indicate that both legislative chambers still have differing views.
“The Senate at this point seems pretty committed to keeping it with the casinos. So we’ll just have to figure it all out,” said Householder.
The Pressure Is On Ohio
Since Eklund’s comments last month, Ohio’s northern neighbor, Michigan, officially legalized both retail and online sports wagering.
Kentucky, Ohio’s southern neighbor, has also sent a sports betting bill to their House floor and the bill looks to be in prime position to be signed into law with the governor supporting the bill.
Meanwhile, OH HB 194 has had a total of eight hearings conducted in the House Finance Committee since being introduced and has yet to reach the House Floor. Similarly, OH SB 111 has had two hearings in the Senate committee of General Government and Agency Review with no luck of obtaining a full vote from the Senate.
Ohio is now sitting in between three states with active mobile betting that does not require in-person registration. That means that residents who live near the borders of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or Indiana can all hop over the state line, place their bets, and come back to Ohio.
This issue will seemingly only be accelerated when Michigan launches its own sports wagering apps.
When Will Ohio Catch Up?
While the legalization process seems to be crawling through the state legislature, action is being taken on the bills, according to Sen. Eklund.
“I know it’s taking a long time,” said Eklund. “But that doesn’t mean nothing’s going on. We’re working very hard to get this just so.”
Rep. Dave Greenspan, one of the sponsors of OH HB 194, has also indicated that the House bill is almost finished and ready to be voted by the committee next month.
“The speaker has made this one of his priorities this year so hopefully we’ll get it over to the Senate and start these discussions,” said Greenspan.
The Ohio Legislature is in session all year so a definitive deadline is unclear. But, with states all around Ohio reaping in tax dollars from legal sports betting, lawmakers may want to get in the game sooner rather than later.
– In his career, Hasan has worked both local and state government positions—including the Attorney General’s Office in Florida. On top of being familiar with the legislative process, he has also been researching and writing on the legality of sports betting across the US. Outside of work you’ll most likely find him producing or playing music, playing sports, or working on creative writing projects. You’ll also catch him at Doak Campbell Stadium cheering on the Noles.