Time is running out for Ohio to legalize sports betting in 2021, but there is some encouraging news coming from a Senate committee. The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming has been working on a bill for a few weeks, and that bill will be sent to the full Senate by the end of the month.
This committee was tasked with working on a bill after both chambers in the Ohio legislature failed to get anything passed to begin 2021. This discussion has been ongoing since 2020, but several key issues surrounding sports betting continue to cause debate.
Ohio lawmakers are hoping to keep sports betting revenue in the state as residents now are heading to other places in the US to make their bets. Both retail and online sports betting is expected to be legalized, but nothing is official until a bill is introduced and passed.
Some of the top online sportsbooks in the US and internationally are expected to seek a license in Ohio, and the Cleveland Cavaliers already have a sports betting partner. In March, the Cavaliers and Betway reached an agreement, but this deal is not approved until sports betting is offered.
Competition Surrounds Ohio
Lawmakers are facing more pressure from residents as the state of Ohio is surrounded with states that have sports betting options. Kentucky is the only neighboring state without this industry, but that could change in the coming years.
Not only are there surrounding states with sports betting, but some of the biggest markets in the US are present. Pennsylvania is consistently one of the top-four biggest sports betting markets, and Michigan has had success since allowing online sports betting in January.
This also provides Ohio with a chance to look at how other states have set up the industry and copy the rules and regulations that appeal to them.
Major Support From Governor
The final decision on sports betting will ultimately be left to Governor Mike DeWine, but a bill has to get to his desk first. DeWine has been vocal in his support for legalized sports betting and wants to tie this new industry to his upcoming budget proposal.
Since the beginning of 2021, the governor has been confident that a bill would be passed in 2021, but lawmakers continue to have disagreements over the language that is included. A signature would be granted to the bill that eventually earns enough support, but there is no longer a guarantee that a bill will pass.
Plenty of Questions Remain
There will be plenty of questions that still need to be answered in the coming weeks, and choosing the regulatory body is at the top of the list. The Ohio Casino Control Commission and the Ohio Lottery are the two top choices from lawmakers, but support for each group has been evenly split.
Lawmakers will also have to determine the tax rate for sports betting and decide where that money is going to go. This is where looking at other states for guidance could come into play and be beneficial for Ohio.