Ohio House Votes in Favor of Legal Online Sports Betting

Ohio House Votes in Favor of Legal Online Sports Betting

The Buckeye State’s sports betting fans have plenty to look forward to over the coming few months. Sick of being left behind unlike their contemporaries in neighboring legal sports betting states like West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the winds of change are now blowing through the State of Ohio.

Ohio Lawmakers Vote for legal sports betting

Sports betting legalization bill, H 194 advanced quickly through the Ohio House Finance Committee last week with just a lone dissenting vote and received equally fast clearance on the House floor a day later.

The proposed introduction of Ohio sports betting would potentially tax sports betting net revenues at a 10% rate, with the revenue raised for the State Budget going directly to education. The bill theoretically allows for sports wagering at casinos, racinos, veterans and fraternal halls, and online through web-based sportsbooks or through mobile apps. It is anticipated that the Ohio Lottery Commission will oversee licensing and regulate the activity.

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However, the Senate has another open bill that is to yet to receive a vote. That proposed legislation would potentially place sports betting’s regulation in the hands of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which oversees Ohio’s four bricks-and-mortar casinos in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo.

Importantly, both the House and Senate bills would allow of online sports wagering.

When will sports betting come to Ohio?

The Ohio sports betting bill’s main sponsor (in partnership with Hyde Park Democrat Brigid Kelly), Republican State Representative, Dave Greenspan says “My goal, realistically, is to have it up in time for March Madness”.

In reality, the sports wagering bill or some variation of it still has to pass the Ohio Senate, so it could take a few months more before Ohio residents can bet legally on sports.

The ‘March Madness’ NCAA college basketball tournament begins in mid-March but the bill could be law well before that. The next step is the Senate, which as mentioned earlier, has its own bill under debate.

The next steps to Ohio sports betting

Ohio lawmakers are about to take their annual Summer recess from late June until September. However, Greenspan and his bill co-sponsor Kelly intend to keep lobbying and refining the bill throughout the recess. Discussing the bill with fellow senators to find common ground should allow simpler passage on the lawmakers return.

“My aggressive strategy is to be able to do something in September, get it passed and get it to the Governor,” Greenspan remarked.

More realistically, Greenspan says that the bill would possible be able to pass both Ohio Houses during the “lame-duck” session in November/December 2020. The thought is that timeframe should allow for the Ohio Lottery Commission to have time to set rules and licensing procedures in advance of throwing open Ohio’s doors to operational sports betting by early March.

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Ohio to open firstly with online sports wagering

Greenspan says that online and mobile betting would possibly be in operation first in Ohio given that fraternal and veterans halls, racinos and casinos may require more time to build infrastructure than the online equivalent.

Greenspan estimates that tax revenue raised for Ohio would be anticipated to be approximately $15 million the first year and possibly raising to as much as an annual $50 million once the Buckeye State market matures.

The lawmaker’s estimate matches the market size estimate of Chris Grove, partner at gambling research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. Grove estimates that Ohio sports betting will possibly generate more than $500 million in annual revenue once the market fully matures, assuming online and retail sports betting are allowed, to rival Pennsylvania – generating more than $50 million in annual tax revenue.

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