After Hearings, Ohio Sports Betting Bill Arrives This Week

After Hearings, Ohio Sports Betting Bill Arrives This Week
© USA Today

A major step in the Ohio sports betting legislation process will be coming on Thursday.

State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), chairman of the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming, will present his gaming bill in a news conference Thursday, according to an interview with Schuring conducted by WHBC 1450-AM in Canton this week.

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Schuring said he is going over the last edits of a 250-page document that proposes the expansion of gaming, including sports betting, e-bingo, iLottery and video lottery terminals.

The news conference will be 10 a.m. Thursday, according to Schuring’s office.

“Right now, it’s 250 pages, and I’ll be working on it again (Monday), making some edits,” Schuring told the radio station. “And when we introduce it, we’re not saying it’s perfect, we’re saying, ‘OK, let’s have hearings, let’s have the interested parties come in.’ We want to make sure that it’s at least written correctly. And that’s what I’m working on.”

Once Schuring introduces the legislation, new hearings for the bill will be scheduled in his committee.

To help shape the new legislation, Schuring’s gaming committee held nine informal hearings since Feb. 3. The committee was presented with several written and in-person testimonies to get to this point in the process. In mid-March, Schuring set a timeline for what the next steps would be.

Bill Shaped by Committee Hearings, Testimony

During last month’s Easter holiday break, Schuring was going to contact every member of the committee for their input based on the testimony during the hearings. He was then going to confer with Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who formed the committee, before introducing a bill.

There were 46 live witness testimonies and nine written statements — ranging from every professional sports team in Ohio to one golf tournament (the PGA Tour’s Memorial). Also giving input have been 11 gaming companies, numerous veterans, grocers, beverage and lottery groups, bowling centers and gaming manufacturers.

The majority of the testimonies have been in favor of passing sports betting and e-bingo legislation (it revises the electronic instant bingo law) for the state.

Schuring said at the beginning of the process that he wanted an open forum on issues — hearing from everybody that is involved — and that any bills would be created after the informational process had concluded.

’Sports Gaming is Certainly Coming to Ohio’

In early March, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) reiterated — and offered a predictlon — that sports betting will be legalized this year in Ohio. The hearings have been to determine how it will be presented and the form it will take.

“Sports gaming is already in Ohio. Ohio is just not regulating it and this is something that is, I think, inevitable and it's coming to Ohio,” DeWine said on March 2. “The members of the General Assembly are working that process and I will have the opportunity to see what they come up with and I’ll have the opportunity to weigh in at the appropriate time, but sports gaming is certainly coming to Ohio.”

The Ohio legislature is in session until Dec. 31.

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