A bill may soon be proposed in Ohio that would legalize sports betting, according to State Representative leaders. If the matter is approved, Ohio sports betting could be launched in the Buckeye State before the end of 2022, according to the House Majority Floor Leader.
Representative Bill Seitz, a Republican who represents Cincinnati, told Statehouse News Bureau that an agreement has been reached between the two chambers of the Ohio state legislature and that a vote could come from a conference committee as early as next week. If so, Gov. Mike DeWine could sign sports betting into law this month. How long it would take to issue licenses is unclear.
No details of a sports betting bill agreement have been made public, but Seitz’s language may indicate that a sticking point has been resolved. The Republican told Statehouse News Bureau that he “want[s] to be sure to give the Casino Control Commission adequate time to do all of the vetting that they are charged with doing under this bill …”
Prior debate in the Ohio Senate and House has led to disagreements on which regulatory agency should oversee sports betting in the state.
Authority Of Sports Betting In Ohio Is Sticking Point
In 2020, state legislators gave the authority to regulate sports betting to the Ohio Lottery Commission, but some lawmakers prefer that power lie with the Casino Control Commission (CCC). In June, the Ohio Senate passed a bill that would legalize sports betting and place it under the CCC. That bill died in the Ohio House of Representatives, mostly due to the fact that the Lottery Commission was not granted regulatory power over sports betting.
The six-member Seitz House and Senate conference committee, which includes Rep. Seitz, has for months been hammering out details of the language that would be included in a sports betting bill. Central to that effort was determining which government agency would have the responsibility of vetting and regulating sports betting in the seventh-largest state in the country.
The Ohio Lottery Commission is an eight-person panel appointed jointly by the Governor and legislative body of the state. Its mission is “supporting education by offering entertaining gaming experiences.”
The Ohio Casino Control Commission is a seven-person board appointed by the Governor. It “has the responsibility to ensure the integrity of casino gaming, skill-based amusement machines, and fantasy contests by licensing, regulating, investigating and enforcing state laws.”
Once legalized sports betting is in place in Ohio, it’s expected that professional sports teams, including the Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers, Guardians, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds, would be interested in hosting sportsbooks at their venues. Casinos and small locations like sports bars and bowling centers would also be eligible for sports betting licenses.
Agreement Eases Frustration
News of the agreement and potential signing of a bill comes less than two weeks after state Senator Kirk Schuring expressed frustration about the lagging progress of the legislation.
“I know this has been frustrating because it’s taking so long, but the Senate, when I offered the floor amendment to House Bill 29 , which is the bill that’s in the conference committee, that floor amendment, the sports gaming floor amendment, passed unanimously,” Sen. Schuring told radio station WHBC. “So, you know, we’re just trying to work with our House colleagues now to get it to the point where it will be approved by both the Senate and House and we’re making progress.”