• Ohio sports betting could be legal before the end of 2019.
  • OH HB 194 would allow casinos, racinos, veteran’s halls, and fraternal organizations to host sports betting.
  • There is no mobile betting allowance in the bill.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio sports betting is inching closer to legalization. House Bill 194, which saw little traction in the last legislative session, now has bipartisan support.

The bill, which would legalize and tax sports betting in Ohio, is co-sponsored by Dave Greenspan (R-16) and Brigid Kelly (D-31).

There are no mobile betting or Internet-based wagering provisions in HB 194. However, the state would offer an unprecedented number of brick-and-mortar betting locales.

Under the current proposal, established gambling venues, veteran’s halls, and fraternal organizations would be able to host legal sports betting.

In the case of the veteran’s and fraternal organizations, only members of these associations would be able to wager. Further, each such locale must have a liquor license and a lottery license.

Such venues are also limited to a single sports betting kiosk or terminal.

Most Ohio bettors will have to use a sportsbook in one of the state’s gaming centers. Ohio has four land-based casinos and seven racinos, each of which would be eligible to host sports wagering.

Ohio’s casino and racino venues would pay a licensing fee of $100,000. The legislation also establishes a $100,000 annual renewal fee.

Veteran’s halls and fraternal organizations would pay $1,000 license fees and $1,000 annual renewal fees.

All sports betting retailers would pay a tax of 10% on gross gaming revenue. These taxes are earmarked for Ohio education initiatives.

In testimony Thursday, Kelly stressed that such tax revenues would not replace existing school funding.

“We talk all the time about needing more resources for schools, and we think this is a good vehicle in which to accomplish that. We’ve been clear that this is additive, it is not a supplement, it is not meant to replace anything, it is meant to only enhance funding for education…”

Greenspan agrees, though his aims with HB 194 are not limited to taxation issues. The omnibus bill affects the entire $1.8-billion-dollar gambling industry in Ohio. Greenspan’s goal is to save time in the future as the marketplace evolves.

“What we are doing is creating a broad framework [so] that, as this industry evolves, [gambling operators] don’t have to come back to us every time there is a new game or there’s a new activity that is impacting their industry.”

It remains to be seen whether this leaves the door open for Ohio to allow online sports betting in the future without new legislation.

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