Senator John Eklund

  • The time for getting legal sports betting in Ohio is coming to a close as the session has one final day left on December 22, 2020.
  • Senator John Eklund, the sponsor to Sub. Senate Bill 111 continues to accentuate the positives as he feels the structured proposal for legal sports betting meets everyone’s needs.
  • Millions of dollars are spent annually by Ohioans who gamble on sporting events as the Buckeye State is home to a huge sports loving community, especially for in-state college games.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The people of Ohio have been waiting since 2019 to see the conclusion for Senate Bill 111 that would make sports betting legal for the Buckeye State and Senator John Eklund, the bill’s sponsor sat down with LegalSportsBetting to discuss its chances in what’s left of 2020.

If anyone were asked midyear which piece of legislation had the better shot of passage for sports gaming legalization in Ohio, many following the proposals at that time would have put their money on House Bill 194, as it was receiving the most traction.

However, Senate Bill 111 has been the comeback story of the year, getting the attention of lawmakers in the state all the way down through the final days of both the year and the session.

What’s Happening With Legal Sports Betting In Ohio?

Senator Eklund believes in his bill. He has spoken in great detail about the tireless efforts of both the House and the Senate to draft a proposal together for sports gaming in Ohio that would be the most beneficial for everyone involved.

“I’m interested in what is in the best interest of Ohioans and the state of Ohio and the prospects of getting a bill passed is what motivates me on that floor and I think this bill (Sub. SB 111) is absolutely the correct path to follow for the industry,” said Eklund to LegalSportsBetting.

The last full day of hearings in the Ohio Legislature was December 17. There is an option for the Senate to meet on December 22 for a further hearing where the substitute to Senate Bill 111 could be heard. The substitute bill requires the approval of both the House and Senate to move forward to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk

Eklund and his team can rally the Senate to approve sports betting while Representative Dave Greenspan and Representative Brigid Kelly could help in the House for passage. Both the House and Senate have the same goal for legalizing sports betting and have come together to work on this proposal.

“Representative Greenspan and Representative Kelly are very strong advocates for the proposition and will be if the Senate passes something, strong, strong advocates in the House for sports gaming,” said Eklund.

Under the Sub. Senate Bill 111, the eleven casinos and race tracks in the state would be eligible for retail sports betting licenses. They will need to pay a $100,000 fee upfront for the application process and then $100,000 every three years to have their licenses to operate renewed.

Each location is also allowed one mobile/online sportsbook license which Eklund thinks is the best way to go about initially introducing a legal sports betting industry in Ohio.

“I do not believe that the one skin rule will hinder anything, I’ve been an advocate for one skin for online gaming from the beginning because I think it’s what’s best for the people of the state of Ohio. I think it’s what’s most appropriate from a regulatory standpoint and from a state revenue standpoint, and as far as being a positive or a negative in terms of passability, I think it’s a positive at the end of the day,” said Eklund.

“It will be a lot easier to expand the skins down the road with an amendment to the law than it would be to subtract them.”

Sub. Senate Bill 111 doesn’t require any further amendments that are not of the technical kind. All big issues have been dealt with. As it’s written now, it merely needs to be cleaned up as a few remnants from older bill versions remain but that’s nothing an eraser can’t fix so it wouldn’t delay any action on legalizing sports wagering in the Buckeye State.

The year is quickly coming to an end but that hasn’t deterred Eklund’s hope that his bill will get approved.

“I have a saying, I didn’t make it up, it’s a common Latin adage “Dum spiro spero” which means, “While I breathe, I hope.” There are many, many different paths through which, in my opinion, sports gaming in Ohio could get done before the end of the year and I am going to pursue every one of those avenues and see what happens. The number of meetings is of no issue whatsoever, what’s important is that the members are aware of and comfortable with and the leadership of both chambers are aware of and comfortable with the direction in which we’re going, and I believe they are,” said Eklund.

What Eklund Wants Ohioans To Know In 2020 About Sports Betting

The appetite for legal sports betting in Ohio is there as millions are taken in by sportsbooks in neighboring states and offshore mobile sportsbooks by eager gambling Ohioans.

Sub. Senate Bill 111 would allow the people of Ohio that are 21 or older to wager on sporting events through both land-based and mobile outlets on numerous sports. While there are two sides on the issue, Eklund would like residents of the Buckeye State to know all of the concerns from both sides have been taken into account when coming up with the final draft of his bill.

“As a general proposition, for those who support sports gaming in Ohio and online sports gaming in Ohio, do not lose heart, number one. Whatever happens over the course of these last few days of the year. Number two, for those who have their reservations about sports gaming in Ohio, please know your concerns have been heard and I believe those concerns have been addressed within the substitute bill currently before the Senate committee and we would never try and pass this bill if we believed that it would be detrimental to the fundamental well-being of the people of the state of Ohio,” said Eklund. “I think we are in a very good place. Not everyone is 100% happy or would be 100% happy with what we’re doing but I sincerely believe we have struck the right balance for legal sports gaming in Ohio with this piece of legislation.”

And with that,  legal sports betting hopefuls in Ohio should begin to chant “Dum spiro spero” as a mantra until a final verdict is heard, hoping for a Hail Mary Passage of the bill.

If sports wagering does not become legal in the Buckeye State in 2020, the new year could prove to be a favorable one. With as much work and effort as the House and Senate of Ohio have put into getting the sports gaming market heard in 2020, the hard conversations have already been had.

As for Eklund, he and his Sub. Senate Bill 111 will be out of the Ohio Legislature come 2021 and he’d like his legislation to go out with a stamp of approval before his term officially ends.

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