Intralot Provides Unintentional Comedy To Ohio Sports Betting Hearing

Posted on March 4, 2021 - Last Updated on March 7, 2021
Ohio sports betting
Posted By on March 4, 2021
Last Updated on March 7, 2021

More testimony on how to shape the legal Ohio sports betting market came Wednesday from a number of proponents.

Bally’s, Caesars, Intralot and the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association all testified in support of sports betting at Wednesday’s Select Committee on Gaming hearing.

They offered a few different perspectives:

  • Bally’s and Caesars stuck to the typical requests from casino operators, calling for a mobile and retail sportsbook market with licenses through existing casinos.
  • The OLBA pitched its case for allowing bars to take bets through lottery terminals.
  • Intralot called for Ohio sports betting to tax sports betting revenue at the highest rate in any US jurisdiction while including a minimum hold.

Intralot of nerve

It’s hard to take any of what sports betting operator Intralot says seriously, but Wednesday’s testimony was something special.

Intralot’s Director of Government Relations Tara Jones pitched the company’s hopes to include the Ohio Lottery in sports betting. She took a swipe at states with tax rates of 10% or lower and praised the maligned Tennessee model:

“The state of Tennessee passed sports betting legislation in 2020 that put a mandated hold at 10% and a state tax of 20%. Tennessee decided to get the most out of their charged tax by fixing their hold.

“Consequently, by taking this approach, the state understands that this is no longer about curing illegal play because no one is changing their offshore accounts to do business with state sports books. The TN model shows us that primarily, those playing, are those that want to do so for fun. The players going off shore, for the most part, are going to continue to do so.”

Jones called for a 40% tax rate as well as a 10% required hold.

Of course, no stats or data were submitted to support the fact that “no one is changing their offshore accounts to do business with state sportsbooks.” It makes sense Intralot thinks that, though, since their lottery-regulated sportsbooks in Montana and Washington DC have failed to entice customers with over-juiced odds.

Jones’ testimony was flawed elsewhere as well when she quoted a story from “legalsportsradar.com” which doesn’t exist. The story actually came from an offshore affiliate.

Give bars sports betting for COVID relief?

The Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, a trade group for bars across Ohio, had one of the more interesting angles heard in gaming testimony this year.

The average OLBA member lost nearly 2,000 hours of operation based on restrictions to curb the coronavirus from July through Feb. 11, Andy Herf said. Now it’s time to repay them:

“OLBA members have done everything they have been asked to do to curb the spread of coronavirus. We now ask to be considered to be included in sports gaming.”

Senators felt differently about Herf’s testimony.

Sen. Niraj Antani made it clear he wasn’t interested in giving those bars a short-term bailout, though Herf said the OLBA’s members are interested in the long-term prospects of sports betting.

Sen. Cecil Thomas called the OLBA’s proposal a good idea that would keep people in the bars.

Gov. DeWine: legal Ohio sports betting coming

There might not be concrete plans yet for what legal sports betting in Ohio looks like, but Gov. Mike DeWine is certain it will happen. That’s according to comments from a press conference Monday:

“Sports gaming is already in Ohio – Ohio’s just not regulating it. This is something that is, I think, inevitable and it’s coming to Ohio. The members of the general assembly are working that process and I will have the opportunity to see what they come up with, I’ll have the opportunity to weigh in at the appropriate time. But sports gaming is certainly coming to Ohio.”

Ohio came close to legalizing sports betting last year but fell short due to last-minute changes in the bill. That doesn’t mean all sports betting by Ohioans is completely illegal; of its five border states, four offer legal betting:

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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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