Last updated: June 2021
Like the blue-collar state that it is, Ohio is going slow and steady in its multi-year march toward legalizing sports betting. They are going so methodically, in fact, that Ohio will not have legal sports betting until at least 2022.
A betting proposal passed out of the Senate and into the House mid-June after more than a dozen committee meetings. Senate sponsors wanted to see SB 176 passed by June 30, but the House will not address the measure until fall 2021 at the earliest.
Legal sports betting in Ohio was close in 2020 with bill sponsors from the House and Senate meeting to work out a compromise last fall. But the Senate proposed a few too many changes in December, and there was too little time to get the work done. Here’s what we know about Ohio sports betting.
What’s happening in Ohio sports betting right now
- June 25, 2021 — The amended HB 29 that now includes sports betting language after the Senate passed it 31-0 will not be heard by the House before the summer break, House Speaker Bob Cupp said. That likely means a longer wait for the start of sports betting in Ohio, which was pegged for April 1 had the bill passed before the legislature’s summer break.
- June 24, 2021 — With it unlikely SB176 would be heard by the House before the summer break, Sen. Kirk Schuring introduced an amendment to HB29 that would legalize sports betting. The amendment also changed the Senate’s betting proposal a bit by fixing a potential issue of locking certain casinos out of retail sportsbooks.
- June 16, 2021 — After multiple stakeholder hearings and changes, the Senate passed SB 176 out of the chamber by a 30-2 vote a day after it passed out of committee.
- May 20, 2021 — The hybrid sports betting bill in Ohio continues to take fire from concerned parties. There are vocal opponents to both the traditional sports betting and lottery-only sports betting game aspects of the law. The state’s three professional teams are pushing for both the three teams and the state’s 11 casinos to receive licenses automatically — a notion that Sen. Kirk Schuring has already characterized as impossible. Meanwhile, lottery retailers are diametrically opposed to the pool game that they are receiving, calling it “a scam.”
- May 12, 2021 — Schuring unveils SB176 as the new sports betting legislation for the Buckeye State. The bill allows for 40 licenses, which are split evenly between mobile and retail operations. Interestingly, the retail operations are required to be standalone operations and cannot be onsite at a racino or casino. The bill also calls for the Ohio Lottery to get a flat fee sports pool product. Of course, there is always opposition to any new law, and this bill is no different — Ohio’s casinos have already voiced their concerns..
- March 11, 2021 — The year begins with a series of meetings on sports betting by the Senate Select Committee on Gaming. The meeting today marks the fifth meeting in six weeks for the committee and is indicative of the more deliberate approach lawmakers are using for the subject now. Nevertheless, Gov. Mike DeWine has already gone on record to call sports betting inevitable in Ohio, so it’s likely a matter of time before things start rolling again. However, with a two-year legislative session stretching into 2022, it’s not clear how much time it will take.
- Dec. 3, 2020 — Unfortunately, the abbreviated timeframe for legalizing sports betting in 2020 has not produced favorable conditions for a quick passage through the Ohio Legislature. At issue is the number of skins, or branded sportsbooks, that each licensee can host as a condition of their licensure. The House’s version of H 194 allowed for three skins, but debates in the Senate have caused that number to dwindle to one.
- Nov. 4, 2020 — Election Night spells big trouble for sports betting in Ohio as three key lawmakers are going to be out of office in 2021. Along with Sen. John Eklund’s departure due to term limits, both House Rep. David Greenspan and Sen. Sean O’Brien suffered election defeats. The news means that a favorable situation for sports betting might only exist in Ohio for another two months.
Is sports betting legal in Ohio?
No. Right now, there are no legal options for sports betting in Ohio. The Ohio Senate is trying to change that. A bill that would legalize online and retail sports betting through casinos, bars and other establishments passed the Senate in mid-June.
It is up to the House now, which has not introduced a sports betting bill of its own – for now, at least. While Senate sponsors wanted to see a bill passed by June 30, the legislative session runs through the end of December.
Any website that says it accepts bets from someone in Ohio is an illegal, unlicensed website operating offshore. Four out of Ohio’s five border states do offer legal betting, though:
- West Virginia
The status of Ohio sports betting
Ohio has a couple of positives going for it right now when it comes to sports betting. First, the Senate proposal includes many opportunities for multiple businesses to get involved in sports betting. There are also plenty of licenses for both mobile and retail operations.
The fact that Ohio has four border states that can accept legal online bets is also a positive for hopeful bettors in Ohio. Legislators around the country are turning to legal sports betting to keep those potential tax dollars from crossing state lines.
But there is no guarantee the House will jump on board with the Senate proposal. The two sides came together in 2020 to compromise, but last-minute changes scuttled the whole effort.
Even if the House had passed the Senate bill by June 30, we did not expect a quick turnaround. The legislation says sports betting cannot start until April 1, 2022.
When will online sports betting launch in Ohio?
Online sports betting would launch no sooner than April 1, 2022, according to the Senate proposal. All of the Ohio sports betting proposals over the last two years called for full online sports betting with remote registration.
That means even if SB 176 is not the bill that legalizes sports betting, whatever proposal does pass would likely have full online with remote registration.
Ohio will have as many as 50 online sports betting skins allowed by its second year of operations. That means well-known betting brands should have a path into Ohio, including:
- Bally Bet
- Barstool Sportsbook
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- theScore Bet
Recent Ohio sports betting news
Ohio sports betting bills
As of mid-June, there is just one sports betting bill in the Ohio legislature.
SB 176 has changed a few times since it was introduced in May. The proposed language calls for a robust legal betting market:
- There would be 25 mobile Type A licenses. Those licenses allow for two skins each with the second skin allowed after one year for up to 50 skins.
- There would be 33 retail Type B licenses. Those licenses include strict location requirements. No sportsbook is allowed in a county with fewer than 100,000 residents. One is allowed in counties with up to 500,000 residents, two in counties with up to 1 million residents and three in counties with more than 1 million residents. Preference is also given to professional teams and leagues for those retail licenses.
- The Type C license will also allow Class D liquor-licensed businesses to have kiosks. Up to 20 establishments can have a Type C license while others can piggyback off another company’s Type C license with a host license for no more than two kiosks.
- Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 10%. Two percent of taxes will go to problem gambling assistance.
That proposal has the potential for a much bigger legal betting market than last year’s HB 194. The compromise legislation eventually proposed just one online skin for each of the state’s 11 casinos and racinos. The upside to last year’s legislation was a slightly lower tax rate at 8%.
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 operated 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
With new legislators taking up the cause of passing an OH sports betting bill, the process essentially started over again in Ohio.
Sen. Schuring pushed the most-supported measure and held 15 hearings in an attempt to include the voices of as many stakeholders as possible. In fact, this might have included some superfluous effort, as the latter hearings produced only minor changes.
The Senate passed a heavily amended bill to create Ohio sportsbooks in June 2021. That left little time for the House to take up the measure, and House Speaker Bob Cupp opted to push back consideration until after summer recess.
That decision likely sets back the timeline for sports betting in Ohio by at least a few months.
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
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. The current proposal (and past proposals) call for legal online sports betting 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.