Ohio Lawmakers Say Sports Betting Will Be a Priority in Fall

Ohio Lawmakers Say Sports Betting Will Be a Priority in Fall
© USA Today

Relax and enjoy your summer, Ohio sports bettors.

The twists and turns of Ohio sports betting took a quiet turn this week and according to a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, legalizing retail and online sports betting will be a top priority — but not until the fall.

“I wish we could have gotten it done by June 30," Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-District 29), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming, told the Enquirer. “I will be working very diligently with key members of the House, key members of the interested parties and Senate President Matt Huffman to put everything in order so we can take quick action when we come back in September.”

In Ohio, the gaming committee and other lawmakers had a Wednesday (June 30) target date to have sports betting legislation on Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk. That didn’t happen.

The current legislature session adjourned for the summer Wednesday and will return from the break for its full House session on Sept. 15. The Ohio legislature is in session until Dec. 31.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-District 4, Lima) also said sports betting legislation would be a priority when lawmakers return in September.

“Over the summer, we're going to be working on that to try to finalize it so when we come back in September, that's one of the first things we do,” Cupp said in the Enquirer story. “That's our goal and that's our hope.”

How Ohio Got to This Point

Senate Bill 176 was introduced to the House on June 17 after passing through the Senate with a 30-2 vote the day before.

The bill was then placed in the hands of the House Finance Committee on June 22, where it was awaiting further action, hoping to have the bill to DeWine on Wednesday.

That all changed June 24.

After 15 hearings in the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming since Feb. 3 and seven since legislation was introduced on May 12, the thoroughness and deliberateness of laying out specific, detailed legislation during that time frame went out the window. The Senate decided to add language to legalize sports betting and group it in with allowing student-athletes to benefit from their own name, image and likeness (NIL), a current hot topic of national discussion.

Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) — a co-sponsor of the original SB 176 — also sponsored SB 187, which was the original bill to allow students to profit off of their name, image and likeness.

Changes to both bills came after House Republicans amended SB 187 to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.

Once that happened, SB 187 was not going to have the support from Democrats to reach the necessary votes needed to make NIL effective by July 1.

On Monday, DeWine signed an executive order on college athletes in universities earning compensation from their name, image, and likeness. The language of the executive order is similar to the language from SB 187, that was sponsored by Antani and because this is an executive order, it is limited to colleges and universities.

The executive order prohibits any college or university from preventing a student from participating in athletics or otherwise punishing them as a result of earning this compensation from their name, image, and likeness effective July 1. Thus, student athletes at colleges and universities will be able to earn compensation from their name, image, and likeness.

“I am grateful Gov. DeWine signed this executive order, at my request, which will allow college athletes to earn compensation from their name, image, and likeness at our universities here in Ohio,” Antani said. “Last week I said that I would pursue all avenues to get this done, and I am very happy that we were able to do that by the July 1 deadline. While the executive order has the force of law for university students, I will continue to pursue legislation on name, image, and likeness so that our students can also benefit.”

DeWine said Monday he would like to see full legislation occur and signed the executive order due to timing of the issue.

The new version, HB29 — a bill that was to create veteran ID cards — now has Antani’s original SB 187 language in it but would not take effect until 90 days after the bill is signed.

Sports Betting Language Added to HB 29

The Senate then added and updated sports betting language from SB 176 to be included into HB 29 after Cupp had made comments earlier last week in a tweet that he didn’t think they could pass SB 176 by June 30.

The changes in HB 29 for sports betting include:

  • Twenty-five mobile licenses and up to 40 brick-and-mortar store licenses.
  • Official league data would be allowed to be part of prop betting.
  • Counties with 800,000 or more residents would be eligible for five brick-and-mortar licenses. Counties with 400,000-800,000 residents are eligible for three licenses. Counties with at least 100,000 residents are eligible for one license. This allows for 11 of the casinos and racinos within the state to apply.
  • Bars with certain liquor licenses could apply for licenses to only offer spread and over/under bets on two self-service kiosks, with application fees dropping from $6,000 to $2,000.
  • A 10% tax on sports gaming would still be implemented, splitting 98% for public/private K thru 12 education and 2% for problem gaming services and education. Of the school money allocation, 49% would be assigned to extracurricular sports and activities.
  • eBingo, which is also part of the overall gaming legislation, would give veterans and fraternal organizations/groups seven electronic bingo or eBingo machines with organizations/groups established before July 1 eligible for eBingo licenses.

All of this, yes all of this, passed through the Senate last Thursday by a 31-0 vote.

HB 29 was supposed to be concurred in the House last Friday with approval of the changes proposed and then sent to the desk of Gov. Mike DeWine (R) for his signature.

That is now on hold until the fall.

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