More Questions Than Answers In Latest Ohio Sports Betting Bill

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Last week Ohio lawmakers announced with much fanfare they had crafted legislation to bring sports betting to the state, but a brief hearing on Wednesday left more questions than answers as to what that could look like when (if?) it becomes law.

The hearing, which lasted less than a half-hour, produced a slightly modified bill. The testimony, however, was limited to just the two main sponsors.

State Sen. Kirk Schuring, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming, has said they hope to have all work on the bill done by the end of June. State Rep. Robert Cupp, speaker of the Ohio Representatives, has made similar comments

But Ohio, unlike many other states, has a full-year legislature so work could continue throughout the summer and allow for sports betting in 2022, if enacted this year. 

Substitute Bill On Sports Betting Makes Few Changes, More Expected

The original bill allowed for sports betting at the state’s 11 casinos and racinos under a program that would be administered by the state’s casino control commission. It called for a total of 40 licenses to be divided evenly between two different divisions, Type A and Type B.  

Type A is limited to brick-and-mortar type facilities. They would be allowed to subcontract with companies such as FanDuel or DraftKings, to run their program.

Type B would be geared toward professional sports teams who want to administer their own program and allows for prop bets. 

The revised bill allows the Ohio Casino Control Commission to factor in economic development opportunities when it awards the Type B licenses. This is seen as a way to make sure all areas of the state benefit, instead of just a select few cities. 

The new bill also allows casinos and racinos to apply for both Type A and Type B licenses.

Another change allows for an unlimited number of mobile apps to be administered under the Type A program.

Small Businesses Want A Piece Of Ohio Sports Betting Action

David Corey, vice president of Bowling Centers Association of Ohio, had hoped small businesses would have a stake in sports betting. His group had wanted the state lottery to administer the program the way it does with Keno.

The proposed bill, and the new substitute, allow for a flat $20 sports bet on sporting outcomes that the lottery would administer. But Corey wants more. 

“We continue to lobby Senate members and are getting an amendment drafted,” Corey said in an email to Gaming Today on Friday. 

His group may testify during the next hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, May 19. 

Schuring’s office did not offer specifics as to what to expect at the next hearing. But Corey is likely not to be alone should he testify. Schuring and others have pledged multiple hearings throughout the coming weeks as the bill makes its way through the legislative process.

On the House side, state Rep. Brigid Kelly (D) is expected to introduce legislation.  Her office did not respond to an email seeking information. 

Kelly’s expected bill, along with the Senate bill, would have to be reconciled together — meaning both Houses would have to pass identical legislation — and sent to Governor Mike DeWine (R) for his signature. 

DeWine indicated in March he supports expanded sports betting in the state, arguing it already takes place.

About the Author

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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