Ohio Sports Betting Bill Sees Snail’s Pace Progress

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Ohio progresses towards legalizing sports betting is at a snail’s pace amid the political transition after the state election. The discussion on sports betting is currently stalled following a Senate meeting on Wednesday that showed little interest in taking up the issue. The General Government and Agency Review Committee analyzed the Ohio sports betting bill, observing the bill was outdated with the Buckeye State’s Congress changes after the election.

How Did The Review Committee Progress Last Week?

The Ohio Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee, which had added sports betting legislation to its agenda the past week, held a brief meeting on an in-progress bill. Although it accepted testimony from six gaming operators, not much was accomplished. The Senate committee heard not more than 10 minutes of discussion on the bill, mainly because the bill is considered outdated at this point.

However, it remained a little positive progress during the third hearing regarding SB 111. All six operators that submitted a testimony expressed support for mobile sports betting in Ohio. In addition, an industry group, iDEA Growth, also dispatched a written testimony to the Committee.

While hailing the opportunity to have another hearing, Sen Eklund said the supporters of the bill have been working on it for months, and some even for more than a year. They “have some very, very significant and useful things for the committee to hear,” said Eklund. The state lawmakers, favoring sports betting in the Buckeye State, will have to find a way to update the bill in order to the make it eligible for voting by the rest of the lawmakers.

Support For The Bill

The most positive aspect that came out of the hearing was perhaps O’Brien’s bullishness on the likelihood of legalizing sports betting in Ohio. While referring to his joint sponsor, O’Brien said, “We have been working diligently, and are working across the spectrum and across the board to make sure this (sports betting) is not a forbidden fruit.”

More importantly, the considerable majority of the submitted testimony for SB 111 supports the draft work that both sponsors have done with HB 194. The hopeful Ohio sportsbooks, besides iDEA Growth, that supported the bill are:

  • DraftKings Sportsbook
  • FanDuel Sportsbook
  • MGM Resorts
  • Penn National
  • Boyd Gaming
  • Jack Entertainment

Comments also praised measures such as the tax rate, inclusion of mobile wagering, and asking for esports betting. Overall, the commentary on the latest HB 194 draft was positive.

How Are Things Unfolding?

Supporters, bettors, and lobbyists are campaigning in Ohio to get a sports betting bill through, and lawmakers have until the end of this year to legalize sports betting in Ohio. If they fail to do so, the issue will require new sponsors next year. Unfortunately, O’Brien and Dave Greenspan lost their re-election bid while it is Eklund’s final term.

As other states deal with considerable budget deficits due to the pandemic-led crisis, many are legalizing sports betting as a viable revenue source. Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia have legalized their sports betting industries and offering mobile betting options. Michigan is about to launch online betting. As a victim of the COVID, like most other states, Ohio may consider regulating mobile betting in order to steer through the economic crisis in the wake of the pandemic.

If Ohio is not able to pass the bill this year, the Buckeye State’s bettors will continue to cross borders to Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to place legal wagers. So, Ohio state lawmakers should realize they are hurting the state economy by not passing the sports betting bill.

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