A bill that would legalize sports betting at both brick-and-mortar locations as well as through mobile betting platforms has been introduced in Ohio. This marks the first bill on file in one of the largest projected markets in the country.
The 146-page bill, referred to as Senate Bill 111, was filed on Thursday by state Senators John Eklund (Republican) and Sean O’Brien (Democrat).
A 2017 study from Oxford Economics suggested that Ohio has the potential to see more than $9 billion in annual sports betting handle and more than $600 million in taxable gaming revenue as a result.
Considering that neighboring states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia already have sportsbooks in operation, and states like Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky actively pursuing legislation to legalize sports betting, Ohio was a little late to the party.
All of those states mentioned have either legal mobile sports betting or are considering legislation to do so. In today’s day and age, it seems that mobile betting is something that every state would need to consider in order to maximize potential revenue. New Jersey is a perfect example where 80 percent of all wagers placed in February in the state were through mobile wagering.
The good news for Ohio is that their new governor Republican Mike DeWine has expressed his support of legalizing sports betting in his state. “It’s coming to Ohio whether people want it or not. We need to be there to do it right, the right way.” While DeWine doesn’t personally like the idea of sports betting himself, he supports his residents in their desire to do so and says he won’t be the one to stop them.
Some key provisions in the bill with regards to mobile wagering are:
A sports wagering operator may accept a wager from an individual physically located within this state using a mobile or other digital platform through the individual’s sports wagering account.
A sports wagering account may be established and funded in person through employees or sales agents of a sports wagering operator or, pursuant to rules adopted by the commission, over the internet through a sports wagering operator’s web site or mobile application in a manner that complies with the internal controls of the sports wagering operator.
A licensed management services provider may operate an online sports pool on behalf of the sports wagering operator with which it has a contract and shall be subject to all applicable provisions of this chapter to the same extent as the sports wagering operator.
A sports wagering operator may use the same brand as its legal gaming facility to provide an online sports pool website. Each web site may have an accompanying mobile application bearing the same brand as the web site.
Remote registration would be allowed, something that is a key aspect of mobile wagering.
States like Rhode Island are requiring in-person registration at casinos in order to create an online betting account. Many believe that could hinder revenue and handle as it will prevent patrons from neighboring states from crossing into Rhode Island to register for a mobile account at a casino when they could just do so on their phones as soon as they cross in the Rhode Island.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Eklund, who chairs the chamber’s Judiciary Committee, was originally hesitant about the idea of mobile sports betting.
“My thinking on [mobile] is evolving,” Eklund said in an interview last month with US Bets. “When I first contemplated the idea, I thought it was kooky, frankly, because I was ignorant, but I am learning more and more that there are many vendors out there who profess to have the means by which to maintain the security in that space, to maintain integrity. So I guess I am to the point where now I would say, yeah, I see where that would be something worth considering.”
Under the bill, sports betting revenue would have a tax rate of 6.25 percent.
Operators would be required to pay a $100,000 application fee. The bill states that casinos and racinos (11 in total) in the state would be eligible to apply, but online-only sportsbooks such as FanDuel or DraftKings may not. If that were the case, the Daily Fantasy Sports gurus would have to find partners with existing license holders if they want to break into the Ohio market.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this bill is its timing. The bill was introduced just one day before Governor DeWine is scheduled to release his budget. The idea is that since this bill was introduced at the time that it was, DeWine will be including sports betting revenue in his budget.
Ohio has until the end of the year to pass the legislation.