Is Ohio Sports Betting Access Already Decided Through New Bill?

Posted on December 9, 2020 - Last Updated on December 10, 2020

Sen. John Eklund introduced the substitute for SB 111, which legalizes sports betting in Ohio but limits the market to one skin per casino.

Eklund introduced the new bill at Tuesday’s General Government and Agency Review Committee meeting. The bill passed with little discussion after Eklund talked about the substitute at last week’s hearing.

Eklund noted there are a few “technical changes” and clarified one area where he misspoke last week. Casinos and racinos will pay a $100,000 application fee and $100,000 license fee every three years, not $200,000 each as he said last week.

The substitute will have to be approved by both the Senate and the House with just over three weeks formally left in the session, though Eklund is confident he has the support of Reps. Dave Greenspan and Brigid Kelly, sponsors of the House’s sports betting bill. Despite the short time frame and changes, the senator told LSR he’s confident sports betting in Ohio will be legalized this year.

“Whether we’re operating with another week or another two weeks, I think we can still get this done,” Eklund said. “I really do.”

Just one sports betting skin left in Ohio?

Out of 11 possible sports betting brands, it’s likely that as many as 10 already have been decided.

Penn is one of only two operators in the state with multiple skins. JACK Entertainment has two while the rest have one:

  • Boyd Gaming (likely will go to FanDuel Sportsbook via a market-access agreement)
  • Caesars Entertainment (will be operated by William Hill, which Caesars is buying)
  • Churchill Downs/Delaware North (likely will be Churchill’s BetAmerica brand, though Delaware North offers sports betting through IGT and BetGenius in Arkansas and West Virginia)
  • Hard Rock (the company is partnered with Scientific Games in Iowa and New Jersey)
  • MGM Resorts (will be BetMGM)

Who gets what with Penn?

Penn National decided in July 2019 who would get its skins through multiple market-access agreements:

  • DraftKings Sportsbook, FOX Bet and PointsBet received access on a first-skin basis
  • theScore Bet received access on a second-skin basis

Penn National will keep a license for itself for the Barstool Sportsbook brand. That likely means theScore Bet is the odd brand out.

Who could be interested in JACK’s second skin?

JACK, meanwhile, partnered with Kambi last September to run its online and retail sportsbooks. Social sports betting is already available on its PlayJACK website.

The release says Kambi will be responsible for both retail sportsbooks but doesn’t say whether or not that includes online for both casinos. JACK told LSR it “won’t be able to accommodate your request for an interview at this time” when asked about plans for the second skin.

JACK could charge a pretty penny for anyone that wants to access Ohio’s 11.7 million people, which makes it the seventh largest state by population.

Sportsbook brands with access to two or more US states without access to Ohio include:

  • 888
  • Betfred
  • BetRivers
  • Circa
  • Smarkets
  • Superbook
  • theScore Bet (presuming the brand misses out on a license from Penn)
  • Unibet
  • WynnBET

Penn National supports new substitute bill

The only testimony submitted for Tuesday’s hearing was from Penn National. Eric Schippers, Penn’s VP of public affairs and government relations, re-submitted testimony previously submitted for the bill’s last hearing Nov. 18.

The industry still thought the bill would include two skins at that point. That was down from three earlier in the fall.

Penn was the only proponent of six from the previous meeting to re-submit testimony for the substitute bill. That doesn’t suggest the other five proponents disagree but it is much easier for Penn to be a vocal proponent with four casinos in the market.

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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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