Ohio sports betting bill moves to House

After months of discussion, a bill that would permit sports betting in Ohio has moved out of the Senate.

A bill that would legalise sports betting in the state of Ohio has been approved by the state Senate and sent to the House for further consideration.

Earlier this month, Senator Kirk Schuring, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming said he hoped to pass the bill by the end of June.

Ohio bill moves to the House

The proposed bill, SB 176, was approved by a vote of 30-2 with one abstention after months of hearing on the matter.

The bill will now move to the House, where it could be amended, passed as it is or set aside for another proposal.

Governor Mike DeWine has indicated he will sign the bill into law once approved.

What’s covered in the bill?

If successful, the bill will authorise state-wide online and land-based sports betting in Ohio.

The Senate proposal contains provisions for three different types of licenses and proposes a 10% tax rate on sports betting revenue.

There will be 25 mobile Type A licence up for grabs along with 33 Type B licences for land-based betting.

Type A licenses permit holders to launch an online sportsbook once they receive approval and then apply to launch another online sportsbook after a year. This means there could be as many as 50 online sportsbooks in the state.

Meanwhile, Type B licenses for land-based locations come with strict location requirements.

No Ohio county with less than 100,000 residents can house a land-based sportsbook, while counties with up to 500,000 residents can have one sportsbook. A county with up to 1m residents can have two land-based sportsbooks and a county with more than 1m citizens can have three sportsbooks.

Meanwhile, a Type C license, which was added to the proposal this week, would allow 20 D class liquor-licensed establishments to host betting kiosks. 

There will also be an unlimited number of host licenses available for other D liquor-licensed establishments to host up to two kiosks each in connection with a Type C license. The kiosks will have a $200 daily limit for each bettor.

The legislation gives preferential treatment to Ohio’s sports teams and leagues for mobile and land-based licenses, due to the restrictions around a county’s population. For example, in Hamilton County, if the Reds and Bengals both get a Type B licence, then casinos in the county would be shut out from applying.

Concern over preferential treatment for sports teams

Senator Sandra William voiced concern about the preferential treatment being shown to the sports teams and leagues in the state.

Williams said: “As you know for me it’s all about Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. And Cleveland has three sports teams, and they’re very good. But if each one of those teams applies for the license, then the organizations in my district who do this for a living — Jack’s Casino and Thistledown Racino — won’t have an opportunity to participate in something they do for a living, gaming. 

“So I will support this bill, but I hope you will consider changing the B provision to allow for a few more licenses for those individuals who want to participate in gaming in our communities.”

Senator Kenny Yuko, who supports the bill also raised some concerns over casinos potentially being pushed out of the sports betting scene.

Yuko is a gambler himself and has helped establish the state’s casino market. 

Speaking on the legislation, Yuko said: “The very same people who brought us so much for Ohio, who shared that money with all 88 counties, who have done so much for our schools, we’re kind of saying that we can’t help you.

“We’re going to have three sports [sportsbooks] here in Columbus. Cincinnati will get two, the Reds and the Bengals — is that one and a half or two? Sorry — but the bottom line is the very casinos who brought us to having this conversation we’re having today are kind of being forced out. And I’m kind of concerned about it. Can we fix it in the House? I hope so.”

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