Governor: ‘Sports Betting is Certainly Coming to Ohio’

Governor: ‘Sports Betting is Certainly Coming to Ohio’
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Two days prior to Wednesday’s next meeting of the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming, Gov. Mike DeWine reiterated — and predicted — that sports wagering will be legalized in his state this year.

During the last portion of a more than 70-minute daily coronavirus press conference on Monday, DeWine was asked if he would support sports gaming that could possibly end up in the upcoming Ohio operating budget.

“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, a Republican, said. “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.”

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The Ohio border states of Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and most recently, Michigan, have legalized sports wagering and are seeing the revenue benefits of gaming. In addition to online sports betting, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan also offer legal online casino games and online poker.

A bill to legalize sports betting passed in the Ohio State House last May, but it stalled in the Senate. The pandemic and the most-recent 2020 election have delayed the state’s timeline has far as possible legislation to legalize sports betting. Ohio already has casinos and racinos.

Why the Gaming Committee was Formed

In late January, Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) announced the creation of the gaming committee for the purpose of overseeing gaming regulation and to analyze the industry's economic impact on the state.

“The growing gaming industry is something Ohio must be prepared to address,” Huffman said in a news release when he announced the committee on Jan. 22.

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On Feb. 3, Committee Chairman Sen. Kirk Schuring (R - District 29, Canton) said at the beginning of this process that he wants an open forum on these issues — hearing from everybody that is involved — and the meetings will not be hearing about specific legislation, but legislation can be created after the informational process has concluded.

Wednesday’s meeting will be the fifth informal hearing on sports gaming and eBingo in this current process. Testimony from sportsbook operators and other possible stakeholders have already been a part of the process including MGM Resorts, Penn National Gaming (Barstool Sports), theScore, FanDuel and, even, the Ohio Grocers Association.

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