A tentative agreement has been reached on legislation that would legalize sports betting in Ohio, a top state House leader told reporters on Wednesday.
House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, shared the breakthrough in an interview with the Statehouse News Bureau. Although he was short on details, Seitz did say the proposal should result in a more competitive sports betting market in Ohio.
“It was always my objective to do what we could to encourage greater competition among the actual sportsbooks,” Seitz told the news agency.
When Could Ohio Sports Betting Launch?
That said, tentative remains the operative word for the legislation. The agreement has yet to be formally adopted by a conference committee that has been vetting the issue, according to the Ohio Legislature’s official website. That could happen as soon as next week, said Seitz.
Should the proposed legislation eventually pass both the House and Senate, Seitz said he expects Ohio sports betting to launch by Jan. 2023.
The extended timeframe will allow state regulators to thoroughly applicants vying for an Ohio sports betting license, Seitz told the Statehouse News Bureau.
“We want to be sure to give the Casino Control Commission adequate time to do all of the vetting that they are charged with doing under this bill, and we want to make sure also that everyone starts at the same starting point,” said Seitz.
How Ohio Sports Betting Negotiations Arrived At This Point
Seitz is one of six members on a House and Senate conference committee that has worked for months to agree on sports betting language added by the Senate back in June 2021 to House Bill 29, a veterans ID bill.
The House refused to agree to the language later that month, prompting the Senate to request a conference committee in September.
The conference committee has worked to reach an agreement since around Oct. 6.
One member of the committee is Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, who told reporters in October that he expected the committee to report an agreement on HB 29 by early Nov. 2021. At that time, Schuring projected that Ohio sports betting licenses could be issued by late April 2022, if legislation were signed into law in 2021.
Based on Seitz’ comments of a launch date as late as Jan. 2023, however, that projection may have changed.
Gov. Mike DeWine said in March 2021 that he expects to sign sports betting legislation this year.
Professional sports teams, casinos, and possibly small venues like bowling centers and bars are expected to be in the running for sports betting licenses should Ohio eventually legalize sportsbooks.