Sports Betting Bill in Ohio Likely to Miss its Target Date

Sports Betting Bill in Ohio Likely to Miss its Target Date
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After easily passing through the Ohio State Senate, sports betting legislation is stuck in the House Finance Committee awaiting further action.

Despite the overwhelming 30-2 vote on June 16, Senate Bill 176 was introduced to the House the next day and assigned to the Finance Committee on June 22.

No committee meetings are scheduled for the rest of this week or next week, according to Committee Chair Scott Oelslager’s (R-District 48) office, which is somewhat concerning as all interested parties were shooting for a target date of June 30 to get the bill approved and to Gov. Mike DeWine.

The bill sponsored by state Sens. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) and Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) outlines three types of gaming licenses in Ohio — mobile, brick and mortar, and self-service kiosks.

“This bill will spur economic opportunities for businesses in Ohio,” Antani said when the bill was passed in the Senate. “Ohioans want legalized sports betting, and this bill will provide that with a safe expansion of gaming in our state.”

On June 16, the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming’s seventh and last hearing had finally given some results for sports betting legislation moving forward.

An omnibus amendment with several key changes was harmonized into SB 176 and by a 7-0 vote was moved to the Senate Rules and Reference Committee and then eventually passed by the full Senate.

The committee gave a suggested timeline that appears to push a unified start of legal sports betting in Ohio until mid-2022.

“Look, if we get this passed by June 30, which is our goal, or before, it will take effect right around Oct. 1, 2021,” Committee Chairman and State Sen. Kirk Schuring said during the hearing. “Obviously, you are not going to hit the ground running as there are rules and applications that have to be designed and distributed. Everybody we talked to said they want an equal start time and so applications for all of these licenses will be opened up on Jan. 1, 2022, and the regulatory authority that is in charge of those licenses will be awarded by April 1, 2022.”

Ohio Deadline Now Uncertain

It’s uncertain how the delay in the House affects the timeline for launching sports betting in Ohio. Any further delay will continue to benefit surrounding states. Michigan sports betting, which launched this year, was the fastest to hit $1 billion in total handle. Sports betting in Pennsylvania continues have one of the highest monthly handles in the U.S.

Schuring in early May released a 252-page plan for what he calls “a powerful bill that no one has seen before.”

The goal since then was to have the bill ready for DeWine to sign by the end of June. It remains up in the air if this is still possible to accomplish that.

The Ohio legislature is in session until Dec. 31.

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