Ohio Rep. Brigid Kelly

  • House Bill 194 would legalize sports betting in Ohio, has passed in the House, and is currently in the Senate for further approval.
  • Bill sponsor, Representative Brigid Kelly is hopeful that Ohio will see a legal sports betting market before the year ends through OH HB 194.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio’s House Bill 194 is moving along favorably within the Ohio Legislature and LegalSportsBetting spoke with one of the primary sponsors of the bill, Representative Brigid Kelly on Monday about its progress.

Presently, there are two sports betting bills that have seen attention in 2020 in the Buckeye State: Senate Bill 111 and House Bill 194.

However, OH SB 111 seems to have stalled out when compared to OH HB 194 but each has until December to come to fruition.

Representative Kelly On Legal Sports Betting In Ohio

What Representative Kelly wants for the people of Ohio is what residents across the nation are seeing more of, and that’s the legalization of sports betting.

OH HB 194 would make betting on sporting events in Ohio legal through both mobile and retail platforms. But, with the current lack of options for sports bettors living in the Buckeye State, Ohioans have to look elsewhere for their sports betting needs.

“We know that the number of states who are legalizing sports betting just continues to increase and so we want to make sure that if folks in Ohio want to play, they can do it here,” said Kelly. “We started working on this (OH HB 194) over a year ago and we’ve had nine hearings and too many interested party meetings to count, so we’re pleased that it’s gotten this far.”

The bill has gotten farther than it did when it was originally introduced last year within the Ohio Legislature.

It’s passed through the House and is looking to receive approval from the Senate to make its way to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk for a final decision.

When asked if there would be any upcoming hurdles in the Senate for House Bill 194, Kelly replied,

“That is a very good question and I wish I could look in my crystal ball and determine the answer but if the House process was any indication, we’ll have a lot of good conversation. But I think the bottom line is we need to work in order to make sure that we can legalize sports betting and capture some of those resources, preferably before the end of this General Assembly which is at the end of December because otherwise, we’ll have to start the process all over again.”

The revenue from legal sports betting under OH HB 194 would go toward the education system in Ohio.

With the Coronavirus pandemic, public schools are looking at some pretty sizable budget cuts to help the economy come back from the debt sustained during the outbreak. If House Bill 194 became law, schools would not be affected as much as they would should the bill not come to pass.

“The way that we designed our bill was so that those resources would go to public education but we still have to go through the process of getting the bill through the Senate where they have a competing bill (OH SB 111). The resources from that sports betting would go to another place so it’s designed a little bit differently, where their money would go to the General Revenue Fund,” said Kelly.

 

“However, under our bill, the resources from sports betting would go toward education and with everything that has happened, in particular, related to COVID-19, we think it’s especially timely that there will be additional resources to go to that because there have been cuts to education. So, we think that if we can create a way for additional resources to go there, that that’s a good thing for kids all across the state.”

Sports betting in Ohio is knowingly happening. Lawmakers are aware of this occurrence and its advocates like Kelly and co-primary sponsor Representative Dave Greenspan that spoke to LegalSportsBetting in April.

Not only will it create a safer environment for bettors of the Buckeye State but it will also allow Ohioans that gamble on sporting events to put money back into Ohio rather than in neighboring states where the pastime is already legal.

“For me, I think that if people want to be able to engage in sports betting, they should do it in a way that’s legal. We know that folks are betting on sports but there are really no consumer protections and no way to capture some of those resources and so I think this (OH HB 194) provides a good avenue to accomplish both of those things,” said Kelly.

 

“I always tell people the story about how I drive past a billboard that says “Parlay and Stay Twenty Minutes Away” but 20 minutes away is in Indiana and so we have Ohioans who are going and spending money in Indiana and we’d rather have those resources kept here.”

What’s Next For House Bill 194?

There is no date set yet for when the next hearing in the Senate will take place for OH HB 194.

But like Greenspan, Kelly is confident that legal sports betting will happen before the end of the Ohio General Assembly in December through House Bill 194.

At this point, the passage of OH HB 194 looks to be favorable and it would mean sports bettors would no longer need to go elsewhere to gamble on the games if the bill can make it through the Senate and receive the signature of Governor DeWine.

“I’m hopeful that yes, we will get it through, COVID notwithstanding. We are just seeing other states do this and capture that revenue,” said Kelly. “If we miss prime time, you know if we miss baseball season, then football season, you know, we’re just leaving money on the table.”

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