Ohio beginning to establish framework for sports betting

Ohio beginning to establish framework for sports betting

July 13, 2018 9:26 AM
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The process for establishing a framework for sports betting has begun in Ohio where two lawmakers are sponsoring a bill to legalize sports betting in the state.

Sens. John Eklund, a Munson Township Republican, and Sean O'Brien, a Bazetta Democrat are behind Senate Bill 316, introduced Thursday to the State Senate, reports cleveland.com.

O’Brien says the bill is deliberately devoid of many details including whether wagers on Ohio’s major professional sports teams in Cleveland (Indians-MLB, Browns-NFL, Cavaliers-NBA), Columbus (Blue Jackets-NHL) and Cincinnati (Reds-MLB, Bengals-NFL) will be legal. Betting on national college football power Ohio State and other Ohio college teams is also unaddressed.

 O'Brien said he wanted a bill introduced so it will have a bill number and constituents can offer opinions. He said he hopes to have more specifics in the bill by August or September.

"My thinking right now is we already have casinos and racinos set up," O'Brien said. I'd kind of like to keep it in those institutions because they are set up for gaming. I'm not sure we want it in every 7-Eleven ...and every bar."

Last week, JACK Entertainment, a major casino operator in Ohio, issued a written statement to Gaming Today regarding the possibility of Nevada-style sports betting in the Buckeye State.

Matt Cullen, chief executive officer, JACK Entertainment, in an e-mail said, “Under the proper regulatory framework, we support the State of Ohio moving forward with sports betting at brick and mortar facilities.”

He continued, “However, the detailed state regulations that will be written in response to the Supreme Court’s decision will determine the safety and viability of this potential amenity. Certainly there is significant guest interest in sports betting being available at our facilities.”

Because JACK operates casinos in Downtown Cleveland, at Thistledown, a racetrack in a suburb east of the city, as well as Cincinnati, lawmakers will have to address Dan Gilbert’s ownership of JACK and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

In Atlantic City, the Golden Nugget is owned by Tilman Fertitta, who also owns the Houston Rockets. New Jersey law currently bans the Golden Nugget, when it opens its sportsbook operation, from taking any NBA wagers on any team. However, in Nevada common ownership of a casino and a professional sports team only requires the casino to prohibit wagers on games in which the owner’s team in involved. In Downtown Las Vegas, the Golden Nugget, a Fertitta operation, takes no action on the Houston Rockets, but does accept wagers on other NBA games.

The NBA’s positions on various national issues, as mandated by its bylaws, are always addressed by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. This is believed to be the reason JACK has been reticent to address the specifics of sports betting in Ohio.

Ohio is expected to be under pressure to enact sports betting laws to effectively compete with soon-to-open sports wagering operations in neighboring West Virginia and other nearby states.