The first step in the long process of legalizing sports gambling in the Buckeye State has begun. Last week, Senate Bill 111 was introduced into the Ohio state legislature. The bill would permit sports gambling in the state’s casinos and racetracks, as well as in other venues that offer video lottery terminals. However, there are still several obstacles that must be cleared before sports betting is officially legalized and available in Ohio.
The instant bill is sponsored by Ohio State Senators Sean O’Brien and John Eklund. This bill serves as a follow up to the initial bill that was brought before Ohio lawmakers during 2018. Per the terms of the proposed measure, both mobile and in-person sports betting would become legalized. The providers of mobile gambling would need to have an in-state Ohio server presence or be physically situated within one of the state’s legal gaming venues.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission will be the entity charged with regulating sports betting. In addition, they will oversee any legal gambling operators currently licensed in the state. These sportsbooks will have to now apply for in-state issued certificates in order to run their sportsbook.
As presented in the bill, the certificate will require a $10,000 fee and the Ohio Casino Control Commission will be tasked with assessing any further requirements needed to allow sports gambling operations in the state. Finally, in addition to the $10,000 fee, the sportsbooks would also be required to pay $100,000 every five years to continue their sports gambling operations.
As we’ve seen in other states, it’s not always smooth sailing when it comes to garnering approval for the legalization of sports betting. In Ohio, much of the resistance has come from Larry Obhof – president of the Ohio Senate. Mr. Obhof’s argument is procedural in nature as it is his belief that Ohio lawmakers do not have the authority to approve sports gambling. As has been the case in other states, Mr. Obhof is of the opinion that sports betting can only become legalized via an amendment to the state’s constitution. This amendment would require a public vote – which could delay legalization by upwards of several months – if not a year.
On the other hand, Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine — formally the state’s attorney general – is a strong supporter of bringing sports betting to the Buckeye State. Governor DeWine is calling for fully functional sports gambling in the state – including allowing prop betting for both professional and college sports.
At the end of the day, the Ohioan’s strong love and support of all things sports – combined with the potential revenue from legalized sports betting – should be enough to bring sports gambling to the Buckeye State. If all goes well, there is a good chance that Ohio will join the ever-growing state’s that allow sports betting come 2020.