Ohio Lawmakers Mull Massive Sports Betting Tax Hike

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Ohio sports betting operators may be paying twice as much tax on revenues under a state budget plan being hammered out in Columbus this week.

A tax hike of 100 percent on Ohio sports betting receipts– from the current rate of 10 percent to 20 percent – was added to the proposed 2024-25 state budget (HB 33) by the Ohio Senate on a 24-7 vote last week.

The increase was not included in the House-approved budget, which first passed that chamber 78-19 back in April.

Additionally, the Senate budget proposal stripped interscholastic athletics and other youth extracurricular activities from a K-12 public and private education fund supported by sports betting taxes. The House had proposed a maximum of $15 million each fiscal year for those programs.

State lawmakers began meeting in conference committee Thursday to reach agreement on differences between the Senate and House budget proposals. Lawmakers have until June 30 to finalize talks and get a budget passed for the new fiscal year starting July 1.

More State Revenue for Ohio – but Not Necessarily for School Athletics

A tax rate of 20 percent would allow Ohio to capture more revenue for education, whether any of it goes to school athletics or not.

Current Ohio law requires that 98 percent of state sports betting revenue (minus administrative expenses and certain tax refunds) be split 50/50 between school athletics or extracurricular activities and K-12 education. The remaining two percent of funds are used to address problem gaming statewide.

Ohio lawmakers are considering raising the sports betting tax to 20%.
A Cleveland Browns fan watches his team lose to the New York Jets in Sept. 2022 (AP Photo/David Richard)

With over $45 million in tax revenue generated from Ohio retail and online sports betting from Jan. 1, the date the industry launched in the state, through April 30, school athletics and related programs now stand to gain about $22 million from sportsbooks.

That would cease under the state budget as proposed by the Senate.

Meanwhile, state revenues could double under the Senate plan should the conference committee agree to a new rate of 20 percent on operators.

State Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati., told Ohio’s WCPO-TV in an email that the House intends “to fight the Senate” to preserve sports gaming revenue funding for school sports and extracurricular activities.

“To my dismay, the Senate has chosen to eviscerate the original sports gaming bill in this regard by appropriating not a farthing for sports and extracurricular activities, but rather, putting it all in school funding,” Seitz said.

It remains to be seen what will be included in the final budget, due for a vote late next week.

Ban on Betting by Violent Fans Also Proposed in Ohio

The most recent version of HB 33 would also beef up the responsibilities of sports gaming regulators at the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Provisions in the proposed budget include banning sports betting by violent fans and potentially adding more sports betting kiosks to hundreds that already exist in Ohio.

The Ohio House had proposed allowing up to seven (from the current five) retail sportsbooks in each of the state’s three largest counties, including Hamilton (Cincinnati) while keeping the maximum number of retail books at 40. But neither the Senate nor Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine included that language in their budget plans.

Any budget provisions impacting the OCCC will have to be agreed to by the Senate and House in order to become part of the final 2024-25 budget.

DeWine is expected to sign a new state budget once it reaches his desk, potentially no later than June 30.

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About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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