Legalizing sports betting in Ohio largely depends on how negotiations around mobile operators shake out, according to Sen. Kirk Schuring.
Schuring told 1480 WHBC House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Hoffman met last Thursday along with “key members” of both chambers. The offices of both leaders would not confirm or deny if the meeting took place when contacted by LSR Friday.
Schuring previously indicated that meeting could move things along this week, but that does not appear to be the case. Instead, it sounds like the negotiations on Ohio sportsbooks are in the same place.
“We want to have another meeting this week and then hopefully that will get us to the point where we need to be,” Schuring told WHBC. “And then we can call a conference committee and look for the conference committee report to be approved both in the House and Senate sometime in the very near future.”
There is still time to pass HB 29. Ohio’s legislative session runs through the end of the year.
Ohio sports betting held up by mobile?
Most of the bill is agreed upon, according to Schuring. He said both sides agree on 90% of the issues but there’s still “heavy lifting” to do.
Schuring made it sound like the most important part of the bill – details that legalize online betting – are a sticking point:
“When it comes to the operation, the mechanical stuff, I think we’re in general agreement but there are some things we have to work out as far as these online applications. But I think we can get there, I really do. I don’t think it’s something that is impossible. I think we will get there.”
Those mobile sportsbooks are key to keeping tax revenue in the state. Right now, Michigan, Pennsylvania and even West Virginia are benefiting from Ohio’s slow work as Buckeye State bettors drive to those states to place legal wagers.
Senator: timelines could jeopardize negotiations
Schuring would not give any timeline when asked, as he did not want it perceived as an ultimatum by House leaders. That makes it sound like these negotiations are on shakier ground than Schuring might want to admit.
Still, Schuring made it clear he expects OH sports betting to be legalized this year.
“I’m telling ya, I’m a tenacious guy and we’re going to get this done. But I’m not going to give you a timeline just because I think it will be very soon and if I gave you a timeline the people I’m negotiating with would say ‘What makes you think, you got out ahead of us and you’ve given us some kind of a date …’ We will get it done.”
What we know about Ohio sports betting
Schuring did not offer many firm details out of last week’s meeting. It sounds like the bones of the Senate’s proposal remain, though.
The Senate proposed three ways to place bets:
- Mobile applications
- Retail sportsbooks
- Lottery kiosks at liquor establishments
More OH sportsbook details
Those categories remain, Schuring said. Just how many mobile sportsbooks are allowed could be in flux.
HB 29 calls for 25 mobile licenses. Sports teams could launch one skin while casinos could launch two.
Schuring did not mention negotiations around the tax rate, which the Senate set at 10% of sports betting revenue.