Ohio Lawmakers Poised to Approve Sports Betting Legislation

Ohio Lawmakers Poised to Approve Sports Betting Legislation
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Sports betting could begin in Ohio by 2023 under a plan being hammered out in the Legislature.

State Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, said he and other legislators at the Capitol in Columbus could soon come to an agreement on a sports betting bill. If the measure is approved, sports wagering could begin by Jan. 1, 2023.

Though sports wagering is legal in neighboring states, including Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, legislators in Ohio have been unable to reach a consensus that would allow it to take place in the Buckeye State. Ohio is the nation’s seventh most populous state, with almost 12 million residents.

Seitz has indicated the sports betting proposal could come up for a conference committee vote next week. The bill then would have to win approval from the full Legislature before going to Gov. Mike DeWine for his consideration.

DeWine, a Republican, has indicted he could support a sports betting measure. The Legislature is set to adjourn at the end of December.

Mobile Wagering Included in Bill

Seitz said a GOP measure under consideration would create up to 25 mobile licenses for casinos and sports teams, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer story. These licenses would allow people to use mobile devices to place bets.

Most betting takes place on mobile devices, Seitz told the newspaper.

"Why would you go to a corner convenience market to place a bet on a machine when you can place the same bet over the telephone?” he asked.

The bill also would allow “40 brick-and-mortar store licenses” for sports betting, the newspaper reported. These betting sites could be at casinos, sports stadiums and arenas, and stand alone sportsbooks.

There are four casinos in Ohio and seven racetracks with slot machines, or racinos. The industry employs almost 20,000 workers and has a statewide economic impact of $3.61 billion, according to the American Gaming Association.

The state also boasts professional teams in football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer.

Seitz urged tight controls on the industry. He told the newspaper he does not think it is wise to let sports betting proliferate like the lottery.

"You've got to have rules, licensure," he said. "You cannot have Tony Soprano running a sportsbook. That’s not in the best interest of the consumer.”

Sports Betting Expands Nationwide

Sports betting began to expand beyond Nevada and a few other jurisdictions after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 allowed states to legalize it. Across the U.S., 30 states and Washington, D.C., have made sports wagering legal. It is legal but not yet operational in Nebraska and Maryland.

In October alone, bettors wagered more than $6 billion on sports and live events with a couple of states yet to report. That month, two states — New Jersey and Nevada — took in more than $1 billion each in sports bets.