A vote on Ohio sports betting in Columbus may not happen this week, but the odds are good that lawmakers will reach some agreement on the issue before another week is up.
Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, told the Statehouse News Bureau today that the House and Senate have a few wrinkles to iron out in the days ahead, but that he remains hopeful an agreement will be reached on the issue in conference committee in the next week or so.
“There are really one or two big issues that I think are fairly clear, and fairly understandable. And I am optimistic,” Huffman told reporter Andy Chow.
Huffman was expected to meet last week with House Speaker Robert Cupp to discuss possible amendments to House Bill 29 — a military veterans’ ID bill onto which the Senate tacked sports betting language days after passing its own sports betting proposal in mid-June. The bill had stalled until the conference committee took it over last month.
Senate Gaming Chair Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, is a member of the conference committee. He told WHBC in late October that he expects the committee to reach an agreement this week.
“We’re reaching a point of critical mass where we can finally get this done,” he said.
Where Ohio Sports Betting Is Now & What’s Next
Ohio lawmakers have been working for 10 months to bring the House and Senate together on a compromise bill that can pass both chambers and make it to the desk of Gov. Mike DeWine, who has said he’ll sign it into law.
Issues to be worked out include which types of businesses will be licensed, and how many licenses will be available for professional sports teams, casinos, and small venues like bowling centers and bars.
The Senate proposed at least two dozen mobile licenses, 40 retail licenses, and 20 self-service kiosk licenses in its amendment to HB 29 on June 24, but the House refused to agree with the proposal. It’s uncertain what changes are now being considered by the conference committee.
Schuring told WHBC that the regulatory process for Ohio sports betting could begin on Feb. 15, 2022, if legislation makes it to DeWine early this month. That, he said, would allow sportsbooks to be licensed no later than April 30, 2022.
“We still have time,” Schuring said. “If we get it done (this) week, that means it goes right to the governor to sign.”