Ohio Sports Betting Bill Sees Key Changes In Quick Committee Meeting

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The Ohio Senate Select Committee met briefly Wednesday afternoon to announce key changes to the proposed sports betting bill – SB 176.

The committee, which met for the 14th time in a hearing that did not last more than six minutes, saw its chairman laying out the bullet points of the substitute bill.

SB 176 was introduced on May 12.

Committee Chairman and State Senator Kirk Schuring had laid out three weeks ago a 252-page plan, calling it a “powerful bill that no one has seen before.”

The state lawmakers plan to send the Ohio sports betting bill to the governor’s desk by the end of June.

The Ohio legislature will remain in session until Dec. 31.

Key Changes into the Bill

Under the key changes introduced Wednesday, operators will pay $500,000 for both Type A and Type B licenses in the second and third years of operation. The initial fee to procure a license in Ohio is $1 million. The initial draft of the bill would have made operators pay $1 million annually for the first three years.

Another significant change included the prohibition on wagering on events where athletes under the age of 18 are competing.

Horse racing is available on mobile sportsbooks as well as retail sports betting locations.

Any sportsbook licensee can apply for one mobile skin in the first year and can apply for a second skin the following year. Initially, there was no limit on the number of mobile skins per licensee.

Another change also added E-sports to games that can be wagered.

What’s Next?

The committee is scheduled to have its sixth hearing on Thursday, followed by another meeting later in the day.

Schuring told lawmakers any changes to the bill must be submitted by Friday. The amendments are expected to be heard next Tuesday.

The proposed legislation awaits impatiently a vote on the floor, as Schuring and the other lawmakers have given themselves a deadline of June 30 to get the Ohio sports betting bill passed and head to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature.

How Have We Reached Here?

The latest development comes after years of failed attempts at Ohio sports betting. The first attempt was made in 2019, which wasn’t brought to the committee until 2020. When the bill seemed to give hope to Ohio bettors, it died because of political disagreement between the state House and Senate as one chamber wanted to see the Ohio Lottery Commission run sports betting while the other favored the Ohio Casino Control Commission for the same role.

The current bill in the upper chamber would see the Casino Control Commission in charge.

Proponents of legal sports betting say without regulations, businesses and taxes from the industry are deserting the state. The disillusionment on a more individual level was expressed by a resident Richard Pijper who testified during the legislation’s third hearing. Pijper said he and his fiance have even considered leaving the state because of the lack of sports betting in the state. He said the Buckeye State is missing out on millions of dollars in potential revenue by delaying legalization.

Even Gov. Mike DeWine wants legalized sports betting. At the March 1 press conference, he said, “Sports betting is already in Ohio, Ohio is just not regulating it.”

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