Local Lottery Retailers Again Make Push For Ohio Sports Betting

Posted on April 21, 2021
Ohio sports betting

There is no official Ohio sports betting bill yet this year, but that is not stopping the annual debate.

Local businesses that sell Ohio Lottery products are resuming their lobbying push to see OH sports betting go through the lottery and not casino regulators.

There were only a handful of testimonies calling for regulation through the Ohio Lottery Commission at the seven meetings held by the Senate Select Committee on Gaming this year. Those hearings are now finished, with Chairman Kirk Schuring working on legislation that he will introduce later this month.

As far as multiple local organizations are considered, though, the conversations are not over just yet. Two local news outlets, the Toledo Blade and the Statehouse News Bureau, ran stories last week with those organizations calling for inclusion.

Lottery retailers want Ohio sports betting ‘scraps’

David Corey of the Bowling Centers Association of Ohio told the Blade lottery retailers want 5% of the pie. It is an argument he presented to Schuring’s committee back in March:

“Casinos and racinos have already stated that their mobile platforms will capture 85%-90% of this new form of gaming. The ‘in-person’ bets that they will take will capture another 5%-10%.

“So all we’re talking about are the scraps that will be left (but those scraps are so important to our local Ohio businesses). We do not believe that Ohio should continue to give out-of-state operators yet another monopoly.”

Free* beer!

Corey went on to explain that his association understands OH sports betting is not a big money maker. He is interested in the extra beer, food and bowling that will happen by offering sports betting in Ohio. Corey suggested only offering pregame and parlay betting through the lottery.

The Ohio Grocers Association also asked for inclusion at another meeting:

“We recognize there are a lot of different concepts and proposals on how sports gaming will function and be structured in Ohio. To that end, we are not here today to advocate for opening a sportsbook in each grocery store or having tables set up through our locations, but we ask you to consider making us a part of the sports gaming system.”

Previous OH bill settled on casino regulators

Allowing multiple types of operators to offer Ohio sports betting is not completely unheard of, but it is rarely done.

Sports betting in New Hampshire might be the closest example. DraftKings Sportsbook holds a monopoly on mobile and retail sportsbooks, but is not the only sports betting operator in the state.

The New Hampshire Lottery also plans to launch sports betting through lottery retailers powered by Intralot. Bills proposing similar systems have failed elsewhere, though.

Last year’s attempt legalize sports betting in Ohio ultimately decided on the Casino Control Commission as the regulator. SB 111 nearly passed in 2020 but there were too many changes at the last minute. It emerged as the winner after debates and a competing bill in the House that still wanted to see the Lottery Commission in charge.

The issue was a hot topic in 2019 as well. Whether Ohio sees a similar debate this year is yet to be seen, but there’s still plenty of time. Legislators could drag this fight on for months as Ohio’s session does not end until Dec. 31.

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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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