Opponents Line Up To Question Ohio Sports Betting Proposal

Posted on May 20, 2021
Ohio sports betting

Those behind the Senate proposal to legalize sports betting in Ohio had to know many interested parties would not love it.

Sponsors of SB 176 finally heard those complaints Wednesday at the Select Committee on Gaming hearing. There were 17 testimonies submitted, though few questions were asked. The bill is on a quick timeline, with the hope of passing it by the end of June.

The two unique parts of the OH sports betting proposal – a lottery-only game and an open-market approach to licensing – took the most heat.

Notably missing from testimony was any casino or racino operator in the state. Three owners made their stance known on the electronic bingo part of the bill. Their coalition has not spoken on the sports betting portion yet.

Teams, leagues want ‘fair market access’ to OH sports betting

Three professional sports teams and the PGA Tour asked for exactly what Sen. Kirk Schuring said no one would get.

The Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Reds, Columbus Crew and the Tour requested that the legislation mandate they get licenses. It is a similar pitch made at committee hearings before the bill was introduced.

All three pro teams also pushed for the state’s 11 casinos and racinos to get automatic licenses as well.

“Despite the many positive conversations we have had with legislators regarding fair market access, and specifically parity between Ohio’s teams and the casinos and racinos here, the structure of the current bill does not provide a pathway for fair market access for Ohio’s professional sports businesses,” said Ted Tywang, representing the Browns and Crew.

“In fact, the sub bill dramatically favors out-of-state gaming interests, including through the requirements that the licensees themselves ‘bank the bets’ and that each license in the Type A group (for mobile and online) would have an unlimited number of deployable mobile skins.”

Schuring, who was not at Wednesday’s meeting, said he would not hand anything to anyone on a “silver platter.”

Lottery retailers want full betting access

Another group asking afgain for something Schuring said they would not get was lottery retailers.

The Ohio Grocers Association, Bassett’s Market and Bowling Centers Associations of Ohio asked for the right to offer standard sports betting in Ohio. SB 176 allows lottery operators to sell $20 tickets on events that would pay winning bettors from that event’s betting pool.

David Corey, executive VP of the bowling group, took it one step farther. He called the suggested pool betting the “most unusable and unworkable thing we’ve ever seen.”

‘It’s basically a scam’

Corey focused on an example of a Browns-Steelers game where there would be heavy betting on the Browns. That could lead to those bettors being paid out less than their $20 bet.

“After the first week of this, no one’s going to use this,” Corey said. “They’re going to figure out that it’s basically a scam.”

Schuring stressed he did not want the lottery offering products with odds.

College association has club sport betting concerns

One of the more head-scratching testimonies came from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio.

President and general counsel C. Todd Jones suggested the definition for college betting is too broad. Without specifying what can be bet on, Jones said club sports also fall under the definition.

He expanded on his thoughts of sportsbooks offering any kind of bets by referencing betting on the DraftKings Halloween Candy Bowl last year.

Co-sponsor Sen. Niraj Antani said any reasonable person would presume the Ohio Casino Control Commission would not approve betting on club sports.

Jones eventually offered an alternative to open college betting: only allowing wagers on NCAA basketball and NCAA football in Division I.

DraftKings testifies as Ohio sports betting proponent

There were just three testimonies listed as proponents of the OH sports betting part of the bill: Sporttrade, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and DraftKings Sportsbook.

DraftKings Senior Manager of Government Affairs Kevin Cochran praised the bill on a few points:

  • The bill’s “reasonable” tax rate, which levies sports betting revenue at 10%.
  • A broad sports betting menu.
  • Reciprocal licensing, which would let the Ohio CCC consider an applicant’s license in another jurisdiction as evidence.

Cochran also made his pitch to let promotional credits be deducted from taxable revenue as a means to beat the offshore market.

“It sounds kind of crazy but we essentially have to make players break up with their bookies,” Cochran said. “And to do that it’s offering them a promotion to get them to try the regulated product, or else they don’t have as much of an incentive to go to the regulated product.”

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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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