Ohio Poised to Adopt Sports Betting Legislation

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The Ohio State Buckeyes with Brutus Buckeye. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images/AFP

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has long been a proponent of sports betting in his state but the Senate just can’t seem to get on the same page as the House and get the bill passed. Reportedly, there will be three different kinds of licenses once the legislation is signed into law.  

There will be licenses for brick-and-mortar facilities, lottery-owned sports betting kiosks, and online sports betting platforms, the most lucrative of the three. A total of 65 licenses is expected with 25 reserved for online operators while the remaining 40 would be granted to retail operators.  

Ohio State Senator Kirk Schuring has been working extensively on the bill and said the Senate is ready to forward the legislation to the House. “We’re just trying to work with our House colleagues to get it to the point where it will be approved by both the House and the Senate,” Schuring said. 

Bill HB29 was unanimously approved by the Senate but lengthy negotiations and modifications have stalled the bill to the point where a best-case scenario for sports betting license applications would be in the middle of February of 2022 and approval would be no later than April 30th of 2022. Once the bill is signed by the governor it will take 90 days to become active. 

“Everyone wants to be a part of the market, and we’re just trying to get it to a point where we can have some semblance of order and get the bill passed. I think we will, soon,” Schuring said. 

It seems there are no issues regarding the inevitability of sports betting happening in the Buckeye State but the nuts and bolts have been slow to be meted out. Another question is which entity will control the sports betting apparatus once it takes hold? Will the Ohio Lottery Commission be responsible or will that fall into the hands of the Casino Control Commission? 

There seems to be plenty of bureaucratic red tape that has hampered the process and the end of 2021 is coming to a close. Without any resolution, this bill could stagnate even further unless all of the interested parties work diligently in resolving the minutia of the bill and get it to the governor’s desk where it is expected to be signed immediately. 

Senator Schuring recently addressed the delays, “We’re getting closer and I can’t get into the details. These are negotiations that are being done and you gotta do it in a way, because there are a lot of moving parts, and when I say there were certain compromises then you’ve gotta test the waters with the other interested parties so it’s a Rubik’s cube if you will.” 

The Ohio state legislature ends on December 31st and although the proponents in the Senate and the House are counting on customers making their first bets by the end of April, just in time for the MLB season. However,  others are less optimistic and believe August will be more likely, in time for the NFL season, the king of sports betting.