Sports gambling could take place online, via casinos, VLT operators
Legal Sports Report

Ohio Sports Betting Bill Finally Appears; Will Sports Gambling Also Surface In Governor’s Budget?

Ohio sports betting dewine

A long-awaited sports betting bill appeared in Ohio on Thursday, marking one of the last major states in the Midwest or Northeast to address the topic in earnest. And it seems primed to get a real push this spring.

The legislation — which you can see here — would allow for both land-based and online wagering in the state.

In the Ohio budget?

Adding intrigue is the timing of the bill, it comes just a day before Republican Gov. Mike DeWine is scheduled to release his budget. The sponsor of the new bill is State Sen. John Eklund, who is also a Republican and chairs the chamber’s Judiciary Committee.

It’s at least feasible that a fleshed out sports gambling bill comes with a push to add revenue to the state budget.

If that’s the case, the possibility of Ohio getting to the finish line on the legislation would seemingly become more likely.

What’s in the OH sports betting bill?

Here is a quick look at the legislation:

  • Both casinos and racinos in the state could offer sports wagering; there are 11 total.
  • Licensees must pay a $100,000 fee.
  • Licensees are allowed to partner with operators for retail and/or online wagering. Remote sign-up is allowed.
  • Gross revenue is taxed at a rate of 6.25 percent.
  • It does not appear as if pro sports leagues would get a royalty or integrity fee under the bill.

The bill appears to limit each licensee to just one online betting platform:

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.

Backstory of Ohio sports betting

The idea of Ohio sports betting has support beyond just the bill’s authors. Shortly after being elected last year, DeWine told News 5 Cleveland to prepare for wagering:

“It’s coming to Ohio whether people want it or not. We need to be there to do it right, the right way.”

DeWine is actually not personally a fan of sports betting, but he said Ohio’s residents clearly support expanded gambling.

Last month, Sen. Bill Coley told Legal Sports Report he wants clarity on the sports betting issue, be it a regulated industry or a sports betting ban. Coley has traveled to conferences around the world to learn more about the wagering industry. As a result, he has some innovative ideas about how to go about regulating it in Ohio.

At the US Sports Betting Policy Summit last November, Coley actually pitched interstate compacts with other sportsbooks as a means to keep the industry above board. The new Wire Act opinion throws a wrench in that proposition. Nonetheless, it indicates Coley is thinking outside the box about Ohio’s options.

With DeWine, Coley, and others backing the idea, things are looking promising in the Buckeye State. In February, Eklund predicted the bill was already “better than 50-50” to pass before it was even filed.

Jessica Welman contributed to this report.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.
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