Ohio Poised to Join Neighboring States with Sports Betting

Ohio Poised to Join Neighboring States with Sports Betting
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With neighboring states cashing in on sports betting, Ohio is finally moving forward with legislation to expand gaming.

HB 194, which legalizes sports betting, was approved by the House on Thursday by an overwhelming 83-10 vote. It now heads to the Senate, which has its own sports betting bill.

RELATED: More about Ohio gaming

With the House approval, one hurdle to bringing sports betting to Ohio was cleared. The Senate bill, SB 111, has some differences including having another agency oversee sports betting.

The differences in the bills will need to be worked out and pass the Senate before moving to Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican.

Legislation has floated in the Ohio General Assembly since the fall of 2018, after the Supreme Court overturned the ban on sports betting. But it has been a long road in Ohio to even get bills out of committees. Both bills stalled last year in committee.

The co-sponsors of HB 194 are Rep. Dave Greenspan, a Republican whose district includes areas just outside of Cleveland, and Rep. Brigid Kelly, a Democrat from Cincinnati.

Kelly said Thursday on the House floor prior to the vote that she would see a billboard saying “Parlay and stay,” 20 minutes from downtown Cincinnati, which was for sports betting in Indiana. “Our residents are going across state lines to spend money,” she said.

Ohio already has gambling at four casinos and seven racinos. They have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. A timetable for reopening casinos has not been determined.

What Could Ohio Sports Betting Look Like?

The House and Senate bills allow for mobile betting, according to Cleveland.com.

Casinos, racetracks (the racinos), veterans groups like the VFW and other fraternal organizations would have the opportunity to apply for licenses. The tax rate in the House bill would be 10% and the Ohio Lottery would oversee sports betting. The Senate bill has a tax rate of 6.25% and the Ohio Casino Control Commission would be the regulatory body.

DeWine told Cleveland.com this year that there are issues with the legislation that need to be worked out. Those included the state agency that would oversee sports betting and whether or not to allow mobile outside of the casinos and racinos.

Nearby States Are Far Ahead of Ohio

Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Michigan have legalized sports betting. Most places to bet in those states are easily reachable from Ohio, which has some catching up to do:

  • Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online gaming In October 2017. Online gambling options included slots, table games, poker and fantasy sports. The first online sportsbook opened in May 2019.
  • West Virginia: Sports betting legislation was passed in March 2018, two months before the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned by the Supreme Court. The sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races took the first legal sports bet in August 2018.
  • Indiana: The state opened its first brick-and-mortar sportsbook in September 2019. Indiana’s first online sportsbook opened about a month later.
  • Michigan: The Lawful Internet Gaming act was signed December 2019 and the state had started taking sports bets at its three Detroit casinos in March before the coronavirus shut down sports and the state. Michigan will have online poker and casino games, fantasy sports and other options for bettors after regulations have been worked out.

Kentucky is the only state bordering Ohio that does not allow sports betting.

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