What will dot the 'i' in Ohio? Not an integrity fee
Legal Sports Report

No Integrity Fee In Ohio Sports Betting Legislation, Key Lawmaker Says

Ohio sports betting

An integrity fee to sports leagues could face an uphill battle as Ohio sports betting enters the Senate committee process.

Requiring the use of official data might stand a better chance though.

Bipartisan bill authors John Eklund and Sean O’Brien didn’t include such an integrity fee when introducing their long-awaited S 111.

“Give me an operational definition of integrity fee,” Eklund told Legal Sports Report. “There’s any number of ways leagues might be able to participate in this exercise. If it’s simply a matter of we put on these contests and so we deserve to be paid for you allowing betting to go on with these games, I can’t get my mind around that.”

Eklund expressed more of a willingness to hear out the leagues on official data.

“I’m given to understand that many of them have a robust statistical gathering process that they use for their contests, and perhaps there’s a place for that information to be a part of whatever the sports gaming evolves into in Ohio,” Eklund said.

Ohio sports betting preparing to leave the gate

Eklund and O’Brien introduced a placeholder OH sports wagering bill last year but never filled out the language. There are two or three options for committee assignments, which is currently being decided by the Senate President and Rules and Reference Committee.

“I think the bill is a darn good start,” Eklund said. “We’ll make every effort to persuade the chairman of the committee to start hearings on the bill very quickly.”

Eklund said he hasn’t heard of anyone else in the Senate with intent to introduce an Ohio sports betting bill.

“I feel fairly confident that this will be the horse at the gate, so to speak, in the Senate,” Eklund said.

Mobile sports betting not a lock to stay in

The bill starts the Ohio sports betting discussion with mobile and online wagering permitting remote sign-up. That’s the model that has been so successful in New Jersey sports be

However, Eklund noted that he wants to hear from residents during the committee process on  having wagering available on their phones.

Earlier this year, Eklund told LSR that he hadn’t favored mobile wagering in the past but had started to come around on it.

“We’re still wrestling with the concept of online or mobile wagering and the extent we have in the bill enough language to properly direct the regulator on how to do that,” Eklund said. “The second challenge is a fundamental question as to whether Ohioans want to allow mobile and online sports gaming at all. It may be that some don’t approve of those sorts of things, and we’ll hear them out.”

Lottery not in the mix

The authors chose to having the Casino Control Commission be the regulatory body for sports wagering after also considering the Lottery Commission.

The bill doesn’t authorize the lottery to participate as an operator. Eklund indicated that the lottery hasn’t expressed having a particular interest in Ohio sports betting, and he thinks it’s better to keep it to the state’s 11 casinos and racinos.

“I still fundamentally believe there’s a significant difference in character and magnitude between a $5 scratch-off ticket or lotto card or Mega Millions card and the exercise of sports wagering,” Eklund said. “I just think they are different animals and need to be treated differently. The lottery has expressed a willingness to do whatever the legislature wants to do.”

OH sports betting has support of governor

Although he declined to include Ohio sports betting revenue in his budget proposal, Gov. Mike DeWine asserted that he expected sports betting to be operational by the end of the two-year budget period.

At the end of his budget speech, DeWine indicated that he would defer to the legislature in setting the parameters for legal sports betting. Eklund is ready to take up that task:

“I’m optimistic and prepared to advocate for responsible sports gaming in Ohio so long as the appropriate consumer protections are in place.

“My recollection is that no one other than those in the problem gambling community have approached me in opposition of the bill, and I have not had anyone approach me with kindling and matches in their hands looking to scuttle the whole idea.”

 

Matthew Kredell
- Matthew started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News, where he covered the NFL, Kobe-Shaq three-peat, Pete Carroll’s USC football teams, USC basketball, pro tennis, Kings hockey and fulfilled his childhood dream of sitting in the Dodgers’ dugout. His reporting on efforts to legalize sports betting began in 2010, when Playboy Magazine flew him to Prague to hang out with online sportsbook pioneer Calvin Ayre and show how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting expansion of regulated sports betting across the country. A USC journalism alum, Matt also has written on a variety of topics for Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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