Ohio Sports Betting Votes Could Come This Week After Agreement

Written By Matthew Waters on December 6, 2021
Ohio sports betting progress

After months of inaction and negotiating, there is now an agreement to legalize sports betting in Ohio.

Sen. Kirk Schuring confirmed multiple reports out of the House on his weekly interview with WHBC 1480:

“We have an agreement on sports gaming and I expect the conference committee to meet this week and for the conference report to be approved. And then it will go to the House and Senate floors this week, we’ve got everything staged up. Now I can’t get into the details because you know we’ve got the concepts that we worked out, and now we’re working with the legislative service commission to make sure they’re in the legal form they need to be.”

Do not get too excited to hear a vote is happening so quickly, though, as Ohio sportsbook apps will not launch anytime soon. Rep. Bill Seitz told the Statehouse News Bureau the plan is to hand out licenses no later than Jan. 1, 2023.

What held up Ohio sports betting?

Schuring has been quite light on details ever since he realized folks actually listen to his radio interviews. The details are not secret, though, after Seitz spelled out the changes to Play Ohio.

As suspected, sports teams and leagues were unhappy being limited to just one skin while other Type A licensees could launch two skins.

Now, neither are guaranteed a second skin but can get approval from the Ohio Casino Control Commission for a second launch if the additional operation will have an incremental benefit to the state. It’ll be pricey though: while the first skin costs $3 million for a five-year license the second will cost $10 million.

Schuring said negotiating was like getting the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines to agree on something:

“This thing has been difficult. The interested parties, they’re good people, I don’t want to cast dispersions toward them, but Pam it’s like they’re so intensively competitive it’s like trying to negotiate an agreement with the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Michigan Wolverines, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

“They’re just naturally competitive with each other and they want a piece of this new market. So well-intended, don’t have any ill-feelings toward any of them, but that’s what really has been holding everything up.”

Long wait on bill, long wait to bet

Had the House and Senate gotten together earlier in the session, there might have been legal betting in Ohio much earlier than there will be now.

Schuring wanted to get sports betting passed before the legislature’s summer break when he amended HB 29. That likely would have led to legal betting sometime in spring 2022.

Now, with the bill saying licenses will be issued no later than January 2023, there’s a chance the long negotiations cost Ohio an entire NFL betting season’s worth of taxed sports betting revenue.

It’ll take 90 days for the bill to become law after a signature from Gov. Mike DeWine. After that, the pressure will fall to the OCCC to get all the necessary work done to stop tax dollars from flowing across state borders.

Photo by Jeff Dean / The Associated Press
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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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