Like the blue-collar state that it is, Ohio is going slow and steady in its two-year march toward legalizing sports betting.
After not getting so much as a committee vote in 2019 despite eight hearings held in the House Finance Committee and sitting dormant for nearly the first half of 2020, the Ohio sports betting bill came to life before summer recess.
The Ohio House passed the bill on May 28. The plan is for House and Senate leaders to work out their differences on the matter during the break so that the Senate can move the bill when it comes back in September.
The future of Ohio sports betting
With a legislative schedule that goes to the end of the year, Ohio probably has the best chance of any state to legalize sports betting during the second half of 2020.
The primary sponsors of the OH sports betting bills believe the House and Senate versions are 90% similar.
The biggest difference is on what regulatory body would oversee the industry. The Senate wants the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge while the bill passed by the House pegs the Ohio Lottery Commission.
This divide has existed since early 2019 with no attempt at a resolution, but Rep. Dave Greenspan, after getting H 194 through, said that he plans to meet with Senate sponsor Sen. John Eklund this summer.
Gov. Mike DeWine has said he wants an Ohio sports betting bill passed before the November election.
When will online sports betting launch in Ohio?
Both proposals include statewide mobile sports betting in Ohio with remote registration.
Four of the five states surrounding Ohio — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and West Virginia — have legalized online wagering.
If the legislative effort to legalize OH sports betting this year succeeds, Ohioans are likely to have online wagering sometime in 2021.
Recent Ohio sports betting news
Legal betting options in Ohio
There are illegal offshore sports betting apps that accept bets from people in Ohio. Without holding a license from any US jurisdiction, these offshore websites can’t be counted on to pay out winnings.
The only safe and protected way to bet on sports in the US is to do so with a licensed operator.
Most popular sports to bet on in Ohio
Championships may be few and far between, but Ohio has a long history in professional sports and at least one team in every major league. Fandom in the state is divided between Cincinnati in the southwest and Cleveland in the northeast.
NFL betting in Ohio
Amazingly, the Cleveland Browns played in the league championship game their first 10 years in existence. Yet, the Browns have never won a Super Bowl, which started in 1967.
The last of their four NFL championships was in 1964. Worse, what was previously the Cleveland Browns won two Super Bowls after moving to Baltimore and becoming the Ravens in 1995. The Cleveland Browns started anew in 1999 and have only made the playoffs once since. Despite the struggles, the Dawg Pound remains rabid.
If it makes Browns’ fans feel any better, the cross-state Cincinnati Bengals have never won a Super Bowl. The Bengals were the worst team in the league in 2019, but that got them the top pick in the draft and reason to be optimistic about the future with Heisman-winning QB Joe Burrow at the helm.
NBA betting in Ohio
LeBron James put his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers on the map, winning them the NBA title in 2016. Since King James left, the Cavaliers are a team in transition looking to hit on another top draft pick to build around in the near future.
MLB betting in Ohio
There’s more than 200 years of combined Major League Baseball history in Ohio, which could be considered the birthplace of professional baseball. The Cincinnati Red Stockings became baseball’s first all-professional team in 1869, a year in which they went a perfect 57-0.
A Cincinnati Reds team was a charter member of the National League in 1876. However, that team was kicked out of the league four years later for refusing to agree not to sell beer at games. The modern Cincinnati Reds were formed in 1881 and have won five World Series titles, the latest in 1990.
Fans of the Cleveland Indians don’t feel the least bit bad for their cross-state counterparts. The Indians haven’t won a World series in 72 years. They flirted with breaking the streak for a three-year stretch from 2016 to 2018, including blowing a 3-1 World Series lead in 2016. Behind superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and up-and-coming pitcher Mike Clevinger, the Indians are still in position to compete, but seem intent on blowing up the team at any time.
NHL betting in Ohio
Columbus technically has the largest population of any city in Ohio, but the only major professional team it has to show for it is the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL. The newcomer to Ohio professional sports, founded in 2000, has yet to kiss the Stanley Cup but did finally win their first playoff series in 2019.
NCAA betting in Ohio
While fandom around the state is divided into regions in the professional sports, most of Ohio can come together to root for The Ohio State in NCAA football. One of the most prestigious programs in the country, the Buckeyes have won eight national championships since their founding in 1890, including taking the first College Football Playoff National Championship in 2014.
The Cincinnati Bearcats also have made some noise in football of late, coming consecutive 11-win seasons.
The state of Ohio hasn’t had as much success in NCAA basketball for a midwest state. The Buckeyes do have 11 Final Four appearances and an NCAA Tournament Title back in 1960. And the Bearcats have an active streak of nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Not to be outdone, the Xavier Musketeers make the tournament pretty much every year, though they have yet to make a Final Four. The Dayton Flyers and Miami Redhawks play occasional Cinderella come March Madness.
Ohio and Daily Fantasy Sports
Interestingly given the Ohio sports betting debate, the Ohio Casino Control Commission was granted oversight of DFS.
With the legal clarification, major DFS sites such as DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo!, and Fantasy Draft operate in Ohio.
Is horse racing legal in Ohio?
Yes, the Ohio State Racing Commission was created in 1933 after the legislature approved parimutuel wagering on horse racing.
Horses race throughout the year in Ohio, with thoroughbred racing at tracks in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Youngstown. Quarter horse races and harness racing also takes place in Ohio.
Seven of the 11 casinos in Ohio are racinos on the site of tracks with live horse racing.
Ohio sports betting timeline
After multiple delays, the House Finance Committee finally advanced the Ohio sports betting bill on its ninth hearing. The House promptly passed the bill a day later, prior to its summer recess.
Rep. Dave Greenspan said that he planned to reach out to Senate sponsor Sen. John Eklund to discuss the differences between their bills over the summer with the hope of coming into the fall session in September ready to pass the legislation.
In addition to oversight, the key differences between the bills are the tax rate (House 10%, Senate 6.25%), that the House bill allows veterans’ and fraternal organizations to have sports betting while the Senate bill limits it to state casinos and racinos, and that all proceeds from sports betting go to education in the House version while the Senate places the revenue in the general fund.
Eklund and Greenspan introduced their bills, then spent most of the year arguing in the press on the merits of each regulator and building a coalition of support.
H 194 got support from the Legislative Service Commission and key Sen. William Coley, who served as president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States. But S 111 got most important supporter of all in Gov. Mike DeWine, the guy who needs to sign off on the legislation.
The House Finance Committee held eight hearings on the bill, where really the only thing figured out was that the bill would not include an official league data mandate. The Senate held one hearing, content to wait until the House bill comes over.
Ohio sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Ohio?
No. Right now, there are no legal options for sports betting in Ohio.
Who would oversee sports betting in Ohio?
That’s the main point of contention between two Ohio sports betting bills. The Senate plan puts oversight in the hands of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The House proposal wants the Ohio Lottery Commission in charge.
Will mobile OH sports betting be allowed?
Yes, both proposals discussed in the legislature include statewide mobile sports betting in Ohio with remote registration.
There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. Any website that says it takes wagers from anywhere in the United States is operating illegally. These sites offer no protection to people who bet with them. All US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level.