Ohio Sports Betting Inches Along With Another Special Committee Hearing

Posted on March 11, 2021
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Written By on March 11, 2021

 Ohio sports betting took the latest in a line of small steps toward its potential framework for legalization.

It was the fifth meeting in six weeks for the Senate’s Select Committee on Gaming. The committee will be crucial to helping achieve a legal sports betting market in Ohio, which Gov. Mike DeWine called inevitable last week.

Several witnesses testified Wednesday with their preferences for a legal OH sports betting market.

Representatives testified from:

  • DraftKings
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • FC Cincinnati
  • JACK Entertainment
  • Poelking Lanes Bowling Center
  • Bowling Centers Association of Ohio

Ohio sports teams all on board

Reds CFO Doug Healy spoke on behalf of Ohio sports teams, saying they are firmly in line with legal sports betting in Ohio.

Healy advocated for a competitive mobile marketplace that allows teams to partner with operators for market access. The teams are also willing to work with lawmakers through the legislative process.

“We look forward to working with this committee to make Ohio’s legalized sports betting market a true example for the rest of the country,” Healy said. “One that recognizes that all three legs of the stool — the casinos, the State, and the sports teams – are partners in the integrity of the sports betting market, as well as its growth and success.”

He also explained the ideal makeup for market-access arrangements through teams, as well as four integrity measures:

  • Sharing real-time betting information from the sportsbooks to the leagues
  • Procedure for sports governing bodies to restrict bets that impose integrity risks
  • Prohibition on insiders from teams and leagues betting on their sport
  • Require sportsbooks to use official league data

FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding largely echoed Healy in passionate testimony. He also said sports betting would be key to building soccer’s legacy in the US.

DraftKings lobbies for mobile

A competitive framework for mobile betting is key to a successful market, argued Kevin Cochran, DraftKings senior manager of corporate affairs.

Cochran said successful legalized markets bring in more than 90% of revenue through online betting. With that in mind, he recommended:

  • Casinos offer multiple skins
  • Framework to protect Ohioans through responsible gaming practices
  • Allow operators to offer an expansive sports betting menu
  • Adopt a practical licensing process

A wary gaming operator

With a “massive expansion of gambling” at hand, JACK Entertainment SVP of Government Affairs Dan Reinhard said it should be limited to current gaming facilities.

In current legal markets, Reinhard said 95% of revenue comes from a handful of operators. Indiana, which allows up to 36 skins, currently has 10 filled with five generating 97% of revenue.

“The data suggests, regardless of how many, no meaningful growth comes from oversaturation,” Reinhard said.

With that, he also advocated for an appropriate tax rate opposite of the 40% rate Intralot proposed last week.

“A higher tax rate means nothing because you have less to tax and the money remains in the illegal market,” he said.

Bowling for sports betting in Ohio?

Representatives from Poelking Lanes and the Bowling Centers Association desire for sports betting in Ohio to be accessible through lottery kiosks already in place. The testimony was similar to that of the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association last week.

Joel Poelking believes the practice would help keep bowlers at the lanes longer, as keno does.

“It’s a win-win for the state and small businesses,” Poelking said.

David Corey, EVP of Bowling Centers Association of Ohio, said it would be a small piece of the whole market, but significant for bowling centers.

“Allowing sports betting is not a COVID bailout,” Corey said. “Rather a long-term opportunity for our centers to thrive and be part of this new strategy in Ohio.”

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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