Expansive Ohio Sports Betting Bill Includes 40 Licenses
A bill that allows for online and retail sports betting and expands gaming — including eBingo and iLottery — was introduced in Ohio Thursday.
During a news conference Thursday, state Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), chairman of the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming, laid out a 252-page plan for what he calls “a powerful bill that no one has seen before.”
Lawmakers want legislation to be on Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk by the end of June.
“This bill is about the free market. It’s about saying to those that want to get into sports gaming, eBingo, lottery form of gaming, iLottery — everybody is going to have to participate and be a part of the process,” Schuring said. “There is not going to be any prescriptive language in the legislation that would give someone special preference.”
On the sports betting front, there will be two types of licenses for sports gaming: Class A and Class B, 20 licenses available for each. A license would be $1 million for three years.
Class A license will be for a facility already in place — casinos and racetracks — where they can bank the bet. In turn, they then can partner with a sports betting platform for a mobile application, such as a DraftKings or FanDuel. There are 11 facilities that can bank bets right now, should they choose to do so.
Class B will be for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks that can offer prop bets.
Sports teams and their stadiums/arenas in Ohio can apply for licenses if they wish.
More on the proposed legislation: 10% tax on transactions, where revenue generated will be for public/private education and gambling addiction; gaming will be under the auspices of the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC); college sports betting will be decided by the OCCC.
Last year, amended legislation did not get out of committee in mid-December.
With Schuring introducing the legislation Thursday, new hearings for the bill will be scheduled in his committee starting May 12, with the hope that the process and the bill will be approved and get done by the end of June.
“Gaming is here today in Ohio,” Schuring said. “All we want to do is put guardrails around it to make sure it’s done correctly and make sure folks that are working in the black market cannot hurt Ohioans.”
Bill-Shaping Process, Testimony
To help shape the new legislation, Schuring’s gaming committee held nine informal hearings beginning Feb. 3. The committee was presented with several written and in-person testimonials to get to this point in the process.
There were 46 witnesses and nine written statements — ranging from every professional sports team in Ohio to one golf tournament (the PGA Tour’s Memorial). Also providing testimony were 11 gaming companies, numerous veterans, grocers, beverage and lottery groups, bowling centers and gaming manufacturers.
The majority of the testimony was 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 would be involved — and that any bills would be created after the informational process had concluded.
’Sports Gaming is Certainly Coming to Ohio’
In early March, DeWine offered a prediction that sports betting will be legalized this year in Ohio. The Senate gaming committee hearings helped determine the bill that was introduced Thursday.
“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, but it looks like lawmakers want legislation completed and signed far before then.
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