Some ‘Heavy Lifting’ Still Left for Ohio Sports Betting Bill
A sports betting bill making its way through the Ohio Legislature could come up a winner by the end of the year.
That’s the takeaway from Ohio State Senator Kirk Schuring, who this week discussed the likelihood of the bill passing before the legislature’s session ends in December.
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Schuring, appearing on Canton’s 1480-AM WHBC, expressed optimism that both chambers will pass the bill in the next two months.
“I think it was a very productive meeting with the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and key members of the House and Senate,” Schuring said. “And we're coming close to an agreement. We want to have another meeting this week.
“And then hopefully that will get us to the point where we're where we need to be and then we can call a conference committee and look for the conference committee report to be approved.”
Schuring declined to comment on a timeline for the bill’s passage, saying there was heavy lifting to be done to get the legislation across the finish line.
What’s Included in the Bill
The current sports betting bill making its way through the Ohio legislature calls for up to 25 mobile licenses and 40 retail sportsbooks in the state.
Additionally, it would allow the state’s 11 current casinos and “racinos” to have two skins apiece, with Ohio’s pro sports franchises getting one skin each as part of the deal.
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Ohio’s previous sports betting legislation, Senate Bill 176, died in the Senate in May, with the current round being attached to HB 29, which is a voter ID law.
As part of the new legislation, counties with 800,000 residents or more would be eligible for five brick-and-mortar sportsbook licenses. Those with 400,000-800,000 residents would receive three licenses, while counties with at least 100,000 residents would receive one license.
Bars that have certain types of liquor licenses also could apply for a sports betting operator’s license, which cost $2,000 apiece, with said venues only being able to offer over/under bets on two self-service kiosks.
The bill also sets up a 10% tax on sports gaming transactions that would fund K-12 education and problem gaming services and education. Of that funding, 98% would go toward schools, with the remainder going to problem gaming.
How the Licenses Would be Split Up
Schuring discussed the licensure structure that Ohio would follow, should HB 29 pass through both chambers of the legislature.
There’d be three types of sportsbook licenses: one for online applications, another for brick-and-mortar facilities, and the final one for terminals at bars and restaurants.
“When it comes to the operational, or mechanical stuff, I think we’re in general agreement,” Schuring said. “But there are some things we have to work out as far as these online applications. But I think we can get there, I really do. I don’t think it’s something that is impossible. I think we will get there.”
Christopher Boan writes for TopUSCasinos.com and has been covering sports and sports betting for more than seven years, with experience at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.