Ohio lawmakers have given the state’s sports betting initiative a boost, approving House Bill 29. The amended bill passed by a vote of 31-1 in the state Senate. The House then passed it 72-12.
This marks a huge step forward for Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine rallied for sports betting legalization in part because bettors in the state were likely going to grey market or offshore solutions anyway.
Plus, Ohio is nestled between various other legal markets. Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all allow online sports betting. The latter three also have online casinos available. That’s stark competition for Ohio, which has lagged behind its neighboring markets.
What Will Ohio Sports Betting Look Like?
Ohio’s sports betting menu will include all the standards that legal markets have already come to enjoy. Professional and college sports are fair game. Notably, there are no restrictions on in-state college games or matches that include an in-state school. Many competing jurisdictions have accepted — and in some cases, attempted to overturn — such restrictions, limiting options for NCAA-savvy bettors and diehard in-state fans.
The Olympics, horse racing, racing sports, and esports are also included. The most significant among those options is esports. Many markets won’t touch esports due to the space being so new, and the fact that many players are under the legal gambling age. It’s yet to be seen how Ohio will regulate esports betting. Chances are the state’s approach could define strategies for other markets looking to adopt esports wagering.
In addition, the bill allows for bars and restaurants to host sports betting kiosks. There is no word yet on how that would look from regulatory and licensing perspectives.
Otherwise, the bill is standard fare. The gambling age is defined as 21 or older, and the Ohio Casino Control Commission will regulate Ohio sports betting. Allowance for a maximum of 25 licenses for casinos and racinos is included in the legislation. License holders could team up with up to two skins.
The bill finally sets forth a deadline of January 1, 2023, for an Ohio sports betting launch. It could happen sooner, but there’s a whole quagmire of legal and regulatory proceedings to trudge through before licenses are awarded and sports betting is officially live in the Buckeye State.