It appears legal sports betting in Ohio will have to wait longer than legislative leaders wanted.
Leaders in both chambers wanted to see an OH sports betting bill passed by June 30, before the Ohio legislature’s summer break. It does not look like that will happen at this point.
The Ohio Senate fiddled the session away with 15 hearings in the Select Committee on Gaming. Eight of those hearings came before the committee crafted the OH sports betting bill with seven after its introduction in early May.
Why didn’t the Ohio bill make it?
SB 176 only passed out of the Senate last week, which didn’t leave the House much time to act.
The bill was assigned to the House Finance Committee Tuesday but an aide at Chairman Scott Oeslager‘s office said she had “no idea” when SB 176 would get a hearing.
That said, something could still happen before the House breaks until Sept. 1. While today is the last day the House will definitely hold session, there are five as-needed dates scheduled through July 7.
Next football season for Ohio sports betting?
Not getting the bill passed before summer break is not the end of the line for SB 176, but it is not great for hopeful Ohio bettors.
The bill already delayed the start of sports betting until April 1, 2022. Pushing the bill back two months theoretically would move that start date back as well. But it is also unlikely the bill gets a vote that first week in September.
If the same kind of timeline is kept, a vote in October or November would have legal sports betting starting around August 2022. Ohio was already set to miss the entire 2021 NFL betting season but now it could also miss out on 2022 March Madness betting as well.
Co-sponsor Sen. Niraj Antani might have a visitor at his office demanding answers about that. Antani invited resident Richard Pijper to “come to my office and yell at me” if the bill was not passed by June 30.
More changes to OH sports betting bill?
SB 176 sitting for a few months leaves a lot of time for lobbying, which could lead to more changes.
The operators of Ohio’s 11 casinos and racinos will likely push for preferred treatment on the licenses, something they wanted all session.
Whether that happens or not is unclear. When the bill was first introduced, Sen. Kirk Schuring said no one would get anything handed to them on a “silver platter.”
And yet …
Clearly, that has changed. One of the multiple amendments added last week before the bill passed out of committee gives the state’s eight professional sports teams, its NASCAR track and the PGA Tour‘s Memorial Tournament preferred access to retail and mobile betting licenses.
Another amendment put strict location restrictions on retail sportsbooks based on population. That could mean some casinos could miss out on a retail book if sports teams grab the licenses available in those counties first.
Border states plenty happy with delay
None of the four border states with legal sports betting will be upset Ohio is taking its time.
GeoComply presented a map at one of the many gaming committee meetings that showed a ton of activity at the beginning of March Madness 10 miles into those four states:
Those states will happily take those bets and cash in on Ohio’s lost tax revenue as long as the legislature drags its feet.