With the 2020 Ohio Legislative session winding down, lawmakers are not too confident they will be able to pass a sports betting bill this year.

  • Legal sports betting in Ohio may have to wait until the 2021 session where bills will need to be reintroduced and all progress made in 2020 will be lost.
  • Residents and bill sponsors in the Buckeye State had hoped to launch a legal sportsbook industry in time for the NFL season but the outbreak of COVID-19 threw a wrench in those plans.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio sports betting legalization was a hot topic of conversation for lawmakers during the Spring heading into the Summer where it suddenly lost all of its traction.

The focal point of all legal conversation shifted to the Coronavirus Pandemic and how to handle the financial damage it caused for the economy.

It was at this point that gambling on sports was placed on the backburner but sponsors of the two bills that would make the pastime legal were hopeful that at least one of the bills would receive passage in 2020.

Those hopes appear to be fading.

Crunch Time

The Ohio Legislature closes its session at the end of the year. In this time, they are expected to hold only a handful of meetings to get pieces of legislation off of the ground and made legal.

There is no definitive word as to whether wagering on sports will be on the docket at any one of these meetings. The people of Ohio had hoped for local sportsbooks to be available for the NFL season but that is highly unlikely.

Even if by some divine intervention, the sports betting bills on the table, Senate Bill 111 and House Bill 194 were to make their way to the October meeting and pass, a launch of the industry by the Super Bowl would be an impossibility.

Football betting enthusiasts in Ohio will need to turn to travel to neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Indiana in order to place their wagers online this season.

Should these bills not be brought up in the last few meetings of the year, sponsors and lawmakers will need to start the process all over again in 2021.

The progress that was made in 2020 will not be allowed to crossover into the 2021 session. This means Ohio will be starting from scratch again when it comes to legalizing a sports betting industry for the state.

Future Outlook

Sadly, Ohio seemed to have everything going in their favor to make sportsbooks legal in the Buckeye State. If it weren’t for the Coronavirus Pandemic, one of the two bills could have already been passed or at the very least, more answers would be known.

However, another factor that slowed down business was the scandal within the House in July surrounding Larry Householder, the Speaker of the House. This caused even more delays as investigations took place.

While Ohio will probably not see a legal sports wagering market in the state for 2020, the 2021 session looks promising.

Not only will they be coming off of a favorable session regarding the topic but the Ohio Legislature will also be looking for new revenue streams to help with the financial losses incurred by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Both of those factors coupled together lead to a great outlook for the Buckeye State to have legal sportsbooks in 2021 and by this time next year, NFL wagers could be taking place with local sports betting operators for Ohio residents everywhere.

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