Sports Betting a ‘Top Priority’ for Fall in Ohio, Lawmaker SaysOhio
One of the top lawmakers in Ohio said legalizing sports betting in the state will be a “top priority” for fall. This probably means the state’s initial target date of sports betting opening up on April 1 will be pushed back.
Many lawmakers were pushing hard for sports betting legislation to be finalized and passed before the state Legislature took its summer recess starting July 1. That didn’t happen, though, with lawmakers holding off on moving forward with official legislation.
While sports betting will get a priority look come the fall, there are still some differences for lawmakers to work out.
A Missed Deadline
Ohio lawmakers first introduced a sports betting bill way back on May 6. At the time, they collectively self-imposed a deadline of June 30 to get the bill passed. The sponsors of the bill were very confident at the time that all would be wrapped up by then.
Of course, that isn’t going to happen now. A main reason is the state Senate and state House of Representatives have two different versions of a sports betting bill — and are jarring with each other over which one is best.
On June 16, the Senate passed its version — Senate Bill 176 — by an overwhelming majority of 30-2. The other chamber then introduced House Bill 29, but the Senate stuffed it with changes at the last minute.
The changes were made in hopes to get more people on board with the proposal. The changes included allowing more licenses in certain counties and opening up sports betting licenses for to racinos and casinos.
That approach didn’t work, though. Lawmakers made a last-ditch effort to attach the sports betting bill to a bill regarding Veterans IDs that was likely to pass. But, even that bill never made its way through to get passed.
All of this created the waiting game that now exists while the state Legislature takes a break for summer.
Ohio lawmakers have proposed ambitious sports betting proposals, and for good reason. Just about every state that borders Ohio already has legalized sports betting in place, putting the pressure on Ohio to do the same.
The latest sports betting proposals in Ohio call for 65 total licenses to be offered throughout the state. Of those licenses, 40 would be available for retail, land-based sports betting outlets. The other 25 licenses would be available for mobile sports operators.
The proposals would also allow bettors in Ohio to wager on professional franchises and colleges that are based in the state. Sportsbooks would be allowed to offer wagers on the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cincinnati Reds, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ohio State Buckeyes, for example.
Some states have gone this route while others have restricted betting on in-state franchises and/or colleges.
State senators have told local media outlets that they plan to use the summer to make contacts with their counterparts in the state House of Representatives to bridge the gap in differences. That way, when the Legislature returns to session in the fall, they’re ready to tackle sports betting legislation quickly.