Why Sportsbooks Might Not Like New Ohio Sports Betting Bill Draft

Posted on November 2, 2020

If sports betting in Ohio is legalized this year, it may not be as robust of a market as expected after the draft bill reduced the number of licenses.

The latest draft of HB 194 cuts the number of OH sports betting licenses to two for each casino and racino operator in the state. That’s down from three in the previous version from September.

It’s not a huge surprise to see a change. Sen. John Eklund, one of the bill’s sponsors, told LSR he considered a lot of the major details in the previous draft as just placeholders. The original bill was passed by the House in May but would need to be re-approved with the changes.

More input was needed

In September, Eklund said the previous draft was based on a conversation with a few members. He wouldn’t commit to any details until all stakeholders had their say:

“They’re all subject to conversation with other senators, state reps and other interested parties,” Eklund said. “I commit to all of them that their input will be sought and considered, and I think that’s important for all parties that are interested in this to know. … To one degree or another, all of those things are placeholders.”

The legislature has until the end of the year to pass the Ohio sports betting law in the lame-duck session.

Changes to Ohio sports betting bill

The number of licenses allowed by each gaming operator in the state was the most significant change in the Ohio sports betting bill.

The new maximum of two skins per casino/racino means the market would be capped at 22 operators instead of 33. The Casino Control Commission remains the proposed regulator instead of the Lottery Commission. That was one of the only specifics Eklund was confident in from the last draft.

Other changes include:

  • Casinos and racinos will not be required to hand out all of their sports betting licenses. The previous draft said those gaming operators “shall contract” but the new draft says “may contract.”
  • Management service providers still pay $10,000 for a license. Instead of $1,000 every year for renewal, those providers will pay $10,000 every three years to renew the license.
  • Operators can no longer subtract the 0.25% federal excise tax paid on all wagers from their total gross receipts. There’s a renewed movement to get that tax repealed at the federal level.
  • Former offshore employees now have a chance to work in the market. The previous draft outlawed anyone that worked with offshore operators in the past. Now, it’s just those that accepted illegal bets from the US from April 16, 2015 forward.

What stayed the same?

There are a couple of positives that remained in the bill:

  • 8% tax rate.
  • $100,000 fee for a five-year license for casinos and racinos.
  • No official league data mandate.
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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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