Ohio Senate Forms Committee to Study Gaming Expansion
Sports betting will be back on the Ohio Legislature docket in 2021.
Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) has announced the creation of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming for the purpose of overseeing gaming regulation in Ohio 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 on Jan. 22. “This committee will ask the tough questions ranging from best practices to oversight. I look forward to their recommendations.”
More pressure was put on Ohio when its neighbor to the north, Michigan, had a successful launch of its online sports betting and casino markets on Friday.
Members of the Senate appointed by Huffman to be on the committee:
- Chair, Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton)
- Vice Chair, Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville)
- Sen. Louis W. Blessing, III (R-Colerain Township)
- Sen. George F. Lang (R-West Chester)
- Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg)
- Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati)
- Sen. Hearcel F. Craig (D-Columbus)
No committee meetings have been scheduled.
A Restart on Ohio Sports Betting
With a new legislature in place, this is a new beginning for sports betting legislation in Ohio.
Last December, an amended sports betting bill was filed but was never reviewed by the Ohio Senate General Government Agency Review Committee and therefore never had a chance to be approved in 2020.
Highlights of the amended bill included: The state's 11 licensed casinos and racinos will be permitted on-site and online for sports betting; the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) will be the regulator; brick-and-mortar gaming licenses will be limited to a single online skin (down from three since September); and an 8% tax on sports gaming receipts; 2% of tax revenue will go to problem sports gambling and 98% to education (revenues divided among all school districts in state based on number of students in each district then distributed annually).
Licenses would cost $200,000 every three years ($100,000 for application fee, $100,000 for license fee — same fees would apply for renewal).
Rework the Old Bills or Introduce New Ones?
Lawmakers can still consider the foundation of last year’s amended bill or go back to the drawing board with possible new legislation and new sponsors.
Three of the top supporters of sports betting bills last year are no longer in the legislature. Rep. Brigid Kelly, a co-sponsor of HB 194, is the only remaining lawmaker of the four that sponsored bills last year.
Gov. Mike DeWine, who wanted sports betting legislation passed last year, is still on board with legal sports betting. Now that the process has been started with the committee being formed, Ohio sports betting has a shot to be legalized this year.
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