Ohio Sports Betting Bill Stirs To Life, May Pass House This Fall

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Ohio sports betting bill stirs to life

An Ohio lawmaker is prepping minor changes to a sports betting bill with the hope of getting it through the House by early November.

Rep. Dave Greenspan tells Legal Sports Report that he will introduce three amendments to H 194 at a House Finance Committee hearing next week.

Greenspan asserted his belief that the amendments, which he said are related to strengthening the integrity of sports wagering, will gain the support needed to move the bill through the committee the following week. The next hearing will be the legislation’s fifth in the committee.

Optimistically, the bill sponsor can see the House vote to regulate sports betting taking place late in October.

“I don’t think there is much opposition in the House, so I hope it can move quickly through the process,” Greenspan said. “I would like to get it over to the Senate so we can start deliberating on the bill and have it enacted as quickly as possible.”

Sports betting negotiations will take place in Ohio Senate

The sooner the House bill reaches the Senate, the quicker the real negotiations can begin.

The House and Senate bills present differing paths for how sports betting could be handled in Ohio. Sen. John Eklund’s S 111 sets up the Casino Control Commission as regulator and limits licensees to the state’s four casinos and seven racinos.

Greenspan’s bill tabs the Ohio Lottery Commission as the controlling body and permits additional placement of sports betting kiosks at fraternal and veterans’ organization halls licensed by the lottery.

In May, Gov. Mike DeWine told legislative leaders that he favors the Casino Control Commission as sports betting regulator.

“As far as the position of the governor, that’s something we’ll work through as the bill continues to move,” Greenspan said. “The governor stated that he preferred the Casino Control Commission, but it was not an outright endorsement as I understand it.”

However, Sen. William Coley told LSR that he believes the Lottery Commission is better suited. As president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS), Coley’s opinion holds a lot of sway.

Expanding sports betting locations is not going to happen

That a bill likely would need to go through Coley’s Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Reform could be part of the reason why the Senate sports betting bill hasn’t moved.

The Senate is waiting on the House bill to engage on the issue. There won’t be much time before the end of the session for the chambers to come to an agreement.

Senate President Larry Obhof indicated early in the session that the Senate wouldn’t support sports betting in retail locations across the state.

Greenspan stated that no further parties will be added to the House bill, which should improve its odds in the Senate.

In previous hearings, the operators of bowling alleys, bars and convenience stores, who are already partners with the lottery, argued that if fraternal and veterans’ organizations can have sports betting, then they should be able to as well. There are 1,200 fraternal and veterans’ halls in the state.

“Even in the House, expanding beyond casinos/racinos, veterans and fraternals would cause some concern among members,” Greenspan said. “Members are comfortable with those being the initial locations. I can’t say in another one or two years that there won’t be more locations, but at this time, there is not support to expand locations beyond what is in the bill.”