Legalized sports betting seems to be finally a reality in Ohio after Gov. Mike DeWine said he “suspects” it to happen in 2021. The crucial statement comes three years after the US Supreme Court’s historic decision of striking down PASPA and after almost a full year of economic crisis due to the pandemic-led safety measures.

However, it was still better-late-than-never sort of realization from the governor who said the gambling modality could come to Ohio as early as this year. “We have people who are wagering all the time in Ohio online, and they’re going to do this and so enabling us to keep some of this money for education in the Buckeye Stat seems to make sense,” Dewine told a media outlet. “There will be sports betting coming to the state, I suspect this year.”

Why Legalize Sports Betting Now?

Until the Supreme Court’s ruling against PASPA, sports betting was restricted to Nevada. The annulment of the controversial law paved the way for sports betting to spread across the states, which were allowed to legislate their own sports betting laws within their jurisdiction following May 2018.

Ohio is among those few states that missed the opportunity until now, and maybe the Buckeye State would persist in its reluctance towards an industry whose potential was only magnified by the most unfortunate occurrence of the last year: the coronavirus. The salutary effects of the online sports betting industry that kept states afloat amid the financial crisis seem to have motivated the governor as well as those lawmakers who want the bill passed to bridge the budgetary deficits.

Neighboring states Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan have already flourishing sports betting markets, which could be another impetus for the Buckeye State to regulate the industry. Of the neighboring states, only Kentucky doesn’t have a regulated sports betting industry, though the Bluegrass State is close to regulating it too.

Where Does Ohio Sports Betting Currently Stand?

The Buckeye State had competing bills in the House and Senate in 2020, seeking to clear the way for sports betting at Ohio’s four casinos and seven racinos. However, the differences over who would oversee the new industry jeopardized the passaged of the bill in the legislature just before the session expired last year. Right now, the only legal option for Cleveland Browns fans is to drive to Pennsylvania to place digital bets on their favorite team.

The lawmakers’ failure to act ahead of the end of the session in December means starting over with a fresh legislature, which does not include the three key sponsors of the old legislation. Still, Gov. DeWine is hopeful 2021 will be an eventful year for the sports betting industry.

When Can We See Legalized Ohio Sports Betting?

Even if regulated sports betting comes to the Buckeye State, it will not happen until the summer of this year. For this, lawmakers must approve the industry at the next legislative session starting in February. The legislative approval will then be put to a statewide vote to approve sports betting. The proposed matter will return to the legislature again, this time for determining the regulation of the new industry.

It is not a straightforward process to launch a regulated sports betting market as it involves various factors. So, fans will have to wait a few more months to place legal bets in Ohio.


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