Ohio Sports Betting Sponsors’ Hail Mary Amendment Not Enough

Posted on June 25, 2021
Written By on June 25, 2021

Who would have thought a bill to give certain veterans ID cards could have legalized sports betting in Ohio?

That is a reality after senators threw a few amendments onto HB 29 Thursday with the amended bill passing 31-0. The language is similar to that in SB 176, but there are a few important changes.

Sen. Kirk Schuring thought this could be the vehicle that passes legal OH sports betting, he said on the Senate floor. He specifically thanked Senate President Matt Huffman for helping Schuring negotiate with “key members” of the House on the amendment.

But House Speaker Bob Cupp said Friday those changes will not be considered now, according to a local news report.

The move came as the self-imposed June 30 deadline looked like it would be missed with the House not acting as quickly as the Senate would like.

It seems this amendment was in the works for a little while, though it was not publicized. Multiple calls to SB 176 sponsors asking about the next steps for sports betting this week went unreturned.

Casinos not shut out of retail Ohio sports betting?

The biggest part of Schuring’s amendment made sure no casino is blocked from getting a retail Type B license.

The new language allowed for five retail sportsbooks in counties with 800,000 or more residents. The previous language limited counties with more than 1 million residents to three sportsbooks.

The old language was specifically a problem in Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties, the home of Cleveland and Cincinnati, respectively. Both counties have three professional sports teams and two casinos, but an amendment from last week gave preferred treatment to the professional teams.

That meant those four casinos could have been without a retail sportsbook if all six teams wanted a Type B license.

There are now 40 retail sportsbook licenses available, up from 33.

Other changes to sports betting language

Schuring rattled off a few other changes, which can also be found in a synopsis of the amendment:

  • Along with potentially losing sportsbook exclusivity in Cleveland and Cincinnati, sports teams took another hit Thursday. They will only have the right to launch one mobile sportsbook while other Type A applicants can offer two skins. There are still 25 Type A mobile licenses.
  • The Type C host license cost for two kiosks at liquor licensed establishments was dropped to $2,000 from $6,000. The potential licensees were also narrowed to just three subsections – 1, 2 and 5 – of a Class D liquor license.
  • Official league data is allowed. “I emphasize allow, not demand,” Schuring said. Schuring said the data would be used for prop betting, but in explaining it to the Senate floor it sounds like Schuring meant in-game betting.

Unchanged important details include the 10% tax on sports betting revenue and the 2% going toward problem gambling. The language also delays the start of sports betting in Ohio until April 1, 2022, the same as SB 176.

Did Schuring call this in May?

Schuring gave an odd quote when he held a press conference to talk about SB 176’s details back in May. In hindsight, it sounds more like a premonition:

“I betcha we can find a warm and fuzzy bill, one that you want to hug and take to bed every night and kiss and everybody will like, right? And I say we put it in that bill.”

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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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