Sports betting won’t happen in Ohio this year in time for the Super Bowl, said a leading advocate of the legislation in an interview with local television earlier this week.
“Unfortunately at this point I’m not hopeful we’ll be able to get it done by the Super Bowl,” state Sen. Niraj Antani (R) said during an interview with SpectrumNews1 in Ohio. Antani is the lead sponsor of legislation passed earlier this year in the state Senate.
“Hopefully by Christmastime we’ll have this legalized and by the first of April, maybe by March Madness, you know, we will be able to place the first bets in Ohio,” he said.
Sports Betting Already Happening In Ohio
Ohio started the year as one of the most promising states to legalize sports betting. The state Senate established a select committee for the sole purpose of drafting legislation on the issue.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) said in March he expected to sign sports betting legislation this year.
“Sports betting is already happening in Ohio. Ohio is just not regulating it,” DeWine said at the time.
This was one of the key points Antani addressed in his interview.
“We want [gamblers] betting at the bar/restaurant in Licking, not in Latvia,” he said.
The Senate Select Committee on Gaming passed legislation in the spring and the full Senate likewise passed it in June. There were efforts to pass similar legislation in the House, but they got mired down in other issues. The Ohio Legislature adjourned for its summer recess without ironing out the differences.
Kiosks Are Part Of the Holdup
Antani said when all is said and done Ohioans will have three options for sports betting: online mobile sportsbooks, retail establishments such as casinos and racinos, and mobile kiosks.
“The third place, and this one is still being worked out, on a lottery machine at a bar/restaurant. If you go to a bar/restaurant in Ohio right now you see these red keno machines. We’d like to make it so you can place a bet on those machines as well,” he said.
It’s these red machines that are causing part of the delay.
Some advocates want the machines limited to traditional sports bars, while others want them available to additional locations such as bowling centers.
David Corey, executive vice president of the Bowling Centers of Ohio Association, has been working all year to see that his stakeholders are included in the bill. They brought House Speaker Bob Cupp (R) to a bowling center over the summer to show how existing kiosks work.
There are a number of issues holding up the legislation, he said, not just the kiosks.
Corey put the odds at “50/50” something would get done this year but was not overly optimistic.
“I’m going to be the guy from Missouri. Show me. Show me when this gets done,” he said.