- Larry Householder, the Speaker of the Ohio House, has been arrested by the FBI on charges of bribery and racketeering and is being asked to resign his position in the Ohio Legislature.
- Householder played a hand with favorable voting on the passage in the House of OH HB 194 that would legalize sports betting and it moved along to the Senate.
- Due to his involvement in its progression, the question of whether or not House Bill 194 should continue moving forward is now being asked.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – House Bill 194 that would legalize sports betting in Ohio may stall out after five people, including Speaker of the House, Republican Larry Householder, have been arrested on charges of bribery and racketeering.
While Householder is not directly connected to OH HB 194, he has been a supporter of it and its progression through the House.
Although unfair, with the charges brought against him, any bill that he was in favor of could now be put into question and OH HB 194 was one of them. The fact that this bill involves sports betting in Ohio already gives it skepticism and this case could make it worse.
The Ohio Arrests
On Tuesday, Householder along with his advisor Jeffrey Longstreth, lobbyist Neil Clark, former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matthew Borges and Juan Cespedes, the co-founder of The Oxley Group, a Columbus-based consulting firm, were all arrested under allegations of accepting $60 million in bribes. The FBI had been investigating all five men for quite some time in building their case against them.
Nuclear power plants in Cleveland and Toledo were set to shut down after not having the funds to stay afloat. Householder would step in to help keep the plants open by tacking on an extra service fee to all electric bills in Ohio and give the plants $150 million that would allow for them to keep operating until at least 2026.
The legislation that Householder had to pass in order to get the okay to charge residents more for their power was to nix any previous ideas for renewable energy that the state was hoping to implement and push that this would keep the plants open and people employed.
Over the course of three years, a non-profit group known as Generation Now was funneled $60 million from an unidentified source. This would be the money that Householder and the others would receive for their help in keeping the plants open.
All of that money was taxpayer money and Generation Now is also being charged in the part they played in helping with the crimes committed. This is one of the biggest if not the biggest bribery scandal the Buckeye State has ever seen.
What Does This Mean For Ohio Sports Betting?
House Bill 194 passed in the House on May 28. It moved to the Senate in June for its next leg of hearings that have not yet been scheduled. Sports betting would become legal under this bill for Ohioans and it was seeing a very favorable trajectory.
LegalSportsBetting previously spoke to both primary bill sponsors, Representative Dave Greenspan and Representative Brigid Kelly who were confident in OH HB 194 seeing more acceptance by lawmakers as time went on.
Of course, COVID-19 issues were at the forefront in the Ohio Legislature before bills like that of gambling on sporting events could be discussed again.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered $775 million in budget cuts in March, prior to the full effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic. He has spoken out as an advocate for legalizing sports betting and would more than likely sign off on any legislation that was brought to his desk.
A legal sports betting market could bring Ohio millions of dollars that they were very much in need of prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and new revenue streams are needed that much more. However, the question remains, will the association with Householder taint the future of House Bill 194?
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.